Context-dependent lexical ambiguity resolution: MEG evidence for the time-course of activity in left inferior frontal gyrus and posterior middle temporal gyrus

Giovanna Mollo, Elizabeth Jefferies, Piers Cornelissen, Silvia P. Gennari

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Abstract

An MEG study investigated the role of context in semantic interpretation by examining the comprehension of ambiguous words in contexts leading to different interpretations. We compared high-ambiguity words in minimally different contexts (to bowl, the bowl) to low-ambiguity counterparts (the tray, to flog). Whole brain beamforming revealed the engagement of left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) and posterior middle temporal gyrus (LPMTG). Points of interest analyses showed that both these sites showed a stronger response to verb-contexts by 200 ms post-stimulus and displayed overlapping ambiguity effects that were sustained from 300 ms onwards. The effect of context was stronger for high-ambiguity words than for low-ambiguity words at several different time points, including within the first 100 ms post-stimulus. Unlike LIFG, LPMTG also showed stronger responses to verb than noun contexts in low-ambiguity trials. We argue that different functional roles previously attributed to LIFG and LPMTG are in fact played out at different periods during processing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-36
JournalBrain and Language
Volume177-178
Early online date2 Feb 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

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