Spatiotemporal Analysis of Brain Activity During Understanding Honorific Expressions
Michio Sugeno* and Takahiro Yamanoi**
*European Centre for Soft Computing, c/ Gonzalo Gutierrez Quiros, s/n, 33600 Mieres-Asturias, Spain
**Faculty of Engineering, Hokkai-Gakuen University, W 11, S 26, Central ward, Sapporo 064-0926, Japan
This paper discusses brain activity during the understanding of sentences from the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistics. We focus on ideational meaning (propositional meaning in an ordinary sense) and interpersonal meaning (as is typically seen in honorific expressions). The present study is an experimental exploration of the spatiotemporal pathways of neuronal activation. Japanese sentences containing and not containing honorific expressions are compared in electroencephalography experiments. In these experiments, the sentences without honorific expressions have ideationalmeaning, but those with honorific expressions have both ideational and interpersonal meanings. Through the use of the equivalent current dipole source localization method, the spatiotemporal processes of activation of the brain are analyzed. There is a single pathway during the understanding of the sentences without honorific expressions; this pathway is mainly observed in the left hemisphere. On the other hand, there are three pathways in the case of the sentences with honorific expressions, two of which are observed in the right hemisphere. The remaining pathway is the same as the aforementioned single pathway. This fact strongly suggests that the common pathway is concerned with processing ideational meaning. The other two pathways observed during understanding of the sentences with honorific expressions are considered to be related to processing interpersonal meaning.
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