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A Model of the Network Architecture of the Brain that Supports Natural Language Processing

Aliko, Sarah; (2022) A Model of the Network Architecture of the Brain that Supports Natural Language Processing. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College Lodon). Green open access

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Abstract

For centuries, neuroscience has proposed models of the neurobiology of language processing that are static and localised to few temporal and inferior frontal regions. Although existing models have offered some insight into the processes underlying lower-level language features, they have largely overlooked how language operates in the real world. Here, we aimed at investigating the network organisation of the brain and how it supports language processing in a naturalistic setting. We hypothesised that the brain is organised in a multiple core-periphery and dynamic modular architecture, with canonical language regions forming high-connectivity hubs. Moreover, we predicted that language processing would be distributed to much of the rest of the brain, allowing it to perform more complex tasks and to share information with other cognitive domains. To test these hypotheses, we collected the Naturalistic Neuroimaging Database of people watching full length movies during functional magnetic resonance imaging. We computed network algorithms to capture the voxel-wise architecture of the brain in individual participants and inspected variations in activity distribution over different stimuli and over more complex language features. Our results confirmed the hypothesis that the brain is organised in a flexible multiple core-periphery architecture with large dynamic communities. Here, language processing was distributed to much of the rest of the brain, together forming multiple communities. Canonical language regions constituted hubs, explaining why they consistently appear in various other neurobiology of language models. Moreover, language processing was supported by other regions such as visual cortex and episodic memory regions, when processing more complex context-specific language features. Overall, our flexible and distributed model of language comprehension and the brain points to additional brain regions and pathways that could be exploited for novel and more individualised therapies for patients suffering from speech impairments.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: A Model of the Network Architecture of the Brain that Supports Natural Language Processing
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2022. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10153599
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