Syntactic processing depends on dorsal language tracts

Stephen M. Wilson, Sebastiano Galantucci, Maria Carmela Tartaglia, Kindle Rising, Dianne K. Patterson, Maya L. Henry, Jennifer M. Ogar, Jessica DeLeon, Bruce L. Miller, Maria Luisa Gorno-Tempini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

238 Scopus citations


Frontal and temporal language areas involved in syntactic processing are connected by several dorsal and ventral tracts, but the functional roles of the different tracts are not well understood. To identify which white matter tract(s) are important for syntactic processing, we examined the relationship between white matter damage and syntactic deficits in patients with primary progressive aphasia, using multimodal neuroimaging and neurolinguistic assessment. Diffusion tensor imaging showed that microstructural damage to left hemisphere dorsal tracts-the superior longitudinal fasciculus including its arcuate component-was strongly associated with deficits in comprehension and production of syntax. Damage to these dorsal tracts predicted syntactic deficits after gray matter atrophy was taken into account, and fMRI confirmed that these tracts connect regions modulated by syntactic processing. In contrast, damage to ventral tracts-the extreme capsule fiber system or the uncinate fasciculus-was not associated with syntactic deficits. Our findings show that syntactic processing depends primarily on dorsal language tracts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-403
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 20 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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