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date: 08 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reports an investigation into possible brain bases for negation. It begins with a review of negation experiments that used behavioral studies (measuring Reaction Time—RT), and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) experiments that sought to identify local activations that correlate with the presence of negation. The chapter dwells on a major methodological problem that permeates the experimental study of negation processing, and proposes a solution: instead of overt negation, we study expressions that contain a covert negation—expressions that are Downward Entailing (DE) as evinced by their ability to reverse inferences and license NPIs in their scope. DE operators are thus taken to contain a hidden, or covert, negation, and contrast with the Upward Entailing counterparts (few vs. many; less vs. more). The chapter reviews behavioral experiments in healthy adults that indicate that DE has a processing cost, and an fMRI study that finds a single brain location for this computation. These results serve as a basis for an experiment on individuals with Broca’s aphasia. Tests with DE and UE quantifiers with these patients resulted in a mixed picture, which is discussed and its implications are derived.

Keywords: brain localization, neurolinguistics, selective impairment, aphasia, focal brain damage, error analysis, processing cost, Downward Entailingness, NPIs

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