Processing of proper names in Mandarin Chinese : a behavioral and neuroimaging study

Yen H-L (2006)
Bielefeld (Germany): Bielefeld University.

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Bielefeld Dissertation | English
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Supervisor
Müller, Horst M. (Prof. Dr. Dr.)
Alternative Title
Die Verarbeitung von Eigennamen im Mandarin-Chinesischen : eine Verhaltens- und Neuroimaging-Studie
Abstract
Proper names have been considered as a universal language class (Bright, 2003; Müller 2004). The distinction between proper names and common nouns has been postulated since several thousand years in ancient Greek and in Chinese philosophy of language (e.g., Kripke, 1972; Wu, 1997). Furthermore, this dissociation has been supported by experimental data (e.g., Müller & Kutas, 1996) and case studies (e.g., Lyons, 2002). This dissertation explores the processing of proper names in Mandarin Chinese in which the morphology of proper names and the tradition of name giving differ greatly from Indo-European languages such as German and English. It aims to figure out whether the theoretically based dissociation has a neurocognitive reality. Besides a behavior study (category decision task), we carried out an auditory and a visual functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment. Forty native speakers of Mandarin Chinese took part in the behavior study whereas twelve different participants participated the fMRI study. For both modalities, forty personal names, forty geographical names and forty common nouns were used as experimental stimuli. Different words were applied in the auditory and the visual experiment. The behavior study tested 20 brand names in addition. In general, Mandarin Chinese speakers of the present study were able to recognize proper names as type (here: personal names and geographical names) significantly faster than common nouns in both auditory and visual modality. In contrast, brand names did not exhibit the faster reaction time than common nouns. The reaction time of brand names was significantly longer than personal names and geographical names. In our fMRI study, processing of proper names and processing of common nouns revealed partially different brain activation patterns. Contrasts between personal names and common nouns as well as contrasts between geographical names and common nouns revealed significant activation. In auditory modality, proper names revealed more activation in bilateral anterior temporal cortices, premotor area and anterior precuneus. In visual modality, proper names evoked significant activation in the frontal lobe including frontal eye fields and premotor area. Despite of modality, common nouns yielded significant activation in the left posterior temporal cortex. Further characteristic of processing of common nouns was activation in occipital area and temporo-parietal junction. Our fMRI findings support the view that processing of proper names and common nouns involve different brain areas. This may due to the difference between general semantic processing and identity-specific semantic processing. Moreover, the corresponding cognitive mechanism of proper name processing may differ from common nouns. The present finding in Mandarin Chinese is also supported by previous research of Indo-European languages. Corresponding to the hypothesis which has been discussed in the philosophy of language over two thousand years, the special status of proper names can be supported by our neurocognitive evidence.
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Yen H-L. Processing of proper names in Mandarin Chinese : a behavioral and neuroimaging study. Bielefeld (Germany): Bielefeld University; 2006.
Yen, H. - L. (2006). Processing of proper names in Mandarin Chinese : a behavioral and neuroimaging study. Bielefeld (Germany): Bielefeld University.
Yen, H. - L. (2006). Processing of proper names in Mandarin Chinese : a behavioral and neuroimaging study. Bielefeld (Germany): Bielefeld University.
Yen, H.-L., 2006. Processing of proper names in Mandarin Chinese : a behavioral and neuroimaging study, Bielefeld (Germany): Bielefeld University.
H.-L. Yen, Processing of proper names in Mandarin Chinese : a behavioral and neuroimaging study, Bielefeld (Germany): Bielefeld University, 2006.
Yen, H.-L.: Processing of proper names in Mandarin Chinese : a behavioral and neuroimaging study. Bielefeld University, Bielefeld (Germany) (2006).
Yen, Huei-Ling. Processing of proper names in Mandarin Chinese : a behavioral and neuroimaging study. Bielefeld (Germany): Bielefeld University, 2006.
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