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Anterior and Posterior Left Inferior Frontal Gyrus Contribute to the Implementation of Grammatical Determiners During Language Production

  • Ishkhanyan, Byurakn1, 2, 3
  • Michel Lange, Violaine1, 2
  • Boye, Kasper1
  • Mogensen, Jesper4
  • Karabanov, Anke2
  • Hartwigsen, Gesa5
  • Siebner, Hartwig Roman2, 6, 7
  • 1 Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen , (Denmark)
  • 2 Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance, Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre, Hvidovre , (Denmark)
  • 3 Department of Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, Aarhus University, Aarhus , (Denmark)
  • 4 The Unit for Cognitive Neuroscience (UCN), Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen , (Denmark)
  • 5 Lise Meitner Research Group Cognition and Plasticity, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences Leipzig, Leipzig , (Germany)
  • 6 Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, Institute for Clinical Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen , (Denmark)
  • 7 Department of Neurology, Copenhagen University Hospital Bispebjerg, Copenhagen , (Denmark)
Published Article
Frontiers in Psychology
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Apr 27, 2020
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00685
PMID: 32395113
PMCID: PMC7197372
PubMed Central


The left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) is a key region for language comprehension and production. Previous studies point to a preferential involvement of left anterior IFG (aIFG) in lexical and semantic processes, while the posterior IFG (pIFG) has been implicated in supporting syntactic and phonological processes. Here we used focal neuronavigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to probe the functional involvement of left IFG in lexical and grammatical processing at the sentence level. We applied 10 Hz TMS effective or sham bursts to left aIFG and pIFG, while healthy volunteers performed an adjective-noun production task contrasting grammatical and lexical determiners. For each trial, we measured the time from the stimulus onset to the moment of articulation (response time) and the time from articulation onset to the end of articulation (duration). Focal TMS of IFG generally delayed response times. The TMS-induced delay in response times was relatively stronger for the grammatical condition compared to the lexical condition, when TMS targeted aIFG. Articulation of the determiner was generally shorter in trials presenting grammatical determiners relative to lexical determiners. The shorter articulation time for grammar determiners was facilitated by effective TMS to pIFG. Together, the effects of TMS on task performance provide novel evidence for a joint involvement of anterior and posterior parts of left IFG in implementing grammatical determiners during language production, suggesting an involvement of aIFG in the initiation and pIFG in the production of grammatically appropriate verbal responses at the sentence level.

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