Discovery of three neural networks that support syntax Brain activation changes during agrammatic comprehension

February 20, 2014

The language centers in the left brain have been currently the only known parts of the system in the human brain supporting language, and the mechanisms of language disorders are not well understood.

© Sakai Lab. Agrammatism is a disorder of syntactic processes in the brain. Four visual stimuli used in a picture-sentence matching task, differential activation patterns for the normal group and three patient groups, and perspective drawings of the three syntax-related networks (red, green, and blue) are shown.

The research group of Professor Kuniyoshi L. Sakai at the University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a syntactic judgment task in Japanese to examine the structure and function of the brains of patients with a left frontal glioma (a glioma is a tumor in the brain or spinal cord), and showed that different types of language disorder (particularly agrammatic comprehension) appeared depending on glioma location. Moreover, the researchers have shown for the first time that there exist three neural networks, which support syntactic processing, including an extensive network with the cerebellum and both hemispheres of the brain.

It is expected that this outcome will help to improve the treatment and rehabilitation of language disorders.

This research was carried out in cooperation with Lecturer Ryuta Kinno of Showa University Northern Yokohama Hospital, as well as with Professor Yoshihiro Muragaki of Institute of Advanced Biomedical Engineering and Science Tokyo Women’s Medical University. It was published in the online Advance Access articles of the British journal Brain on 11 February 2014 (UK time).

Press release (JST)


Ryuta Kinno; Shinri Ohta; Yoshihiro Muragaki; Takashi Maruyama; Kuniyoshi L. Sakai,
“Differential reorganization of three syntax-related networks induced by a left frontal glioma”,
Brain Online Edition: 2014/2/11, doi: 10.1093/brain/awu013.
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Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Department of Basic Science, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Sakai Lab, Department of Basic Science, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

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