Syntactic dependencies as memorized sequences in the brain

Yosef Grodzinsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The prospects of a cognitive neuroscience of syntax are considered with respect to functional neuroanatomy of two seemingly independent systems: Working Memory and syntactic representation and processing. It is proposed that these two systems are more closely related than previously supposed. In particular, it is claimed that a sentence with anaphoric dependencies involves several Working Memories, each entrusted with a different linguistic function. Components of Working Memory reside in the Left Inferior Frontal Gyms, which is associated with Broca's region. When lesioned, this area manifests comprehension disruptions in the ability to analyze intra-sentential dependencies, suggesting that Working Memory spans over syntactic computations. The unification of considerations regarding Working Memory with a purely syntactic approach to Broca's regions leads to the conclusion that mechanisms that compute transformations-and no other syntactic relations-reside in this area.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)241-266+322
JournalCanadian Journal of Linguistics
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


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