A Neural Dissociation within Language: Evidence that the Mental Dictionary Is Part of Declarative Memory, and that Grammatical Rules Are Processed by the Procedural System.

Research paper by M T MT Ullman, S S Corkin, M M Coppola, G G Hickok, J H JH Growdon, W J WJ Koroshetz, S S Pinker

Indexed on: 01 Mar '97Published on: 01 Mar '97Published in: Journal of cognitive neuroscience


Language comprises a lexicon for storing words and a grammar for generating rule-governed forms. Evidence is presented that the lexicon is part of a temporal-parietalhnedial-temporal "declarative memory" system and that granlmatical rules are processed by a frontamasal-ganglia "procedural" system. Patients produced past tenses of regular and novel verbs (looked and plagged), which require an -ed-suffixation rule, and irregular verbs (dug), which are retrieved from memory. Word-finding difficulties in posterior aphasia, and the general declarative memory impairment in Alzheimer's disease, led to more errors with irregular than regular and novel verbs. Grammatical difficulties in anterior aphasia, and the general impairment of procedures in Parkinson's disease, led to the opposite pattern. In contrast to the Parkinson's patients, who showed sup pressed motor activity and rule use, Huntington's disease patients showed excess motor activity and rule use, underscoring a role for the basal ganglia in grammatical processing.