1 Department of English, Faculty of Humanities, Aarhus University, Aarhus University2 School of Communication and Culture - Department of English, School of Communication and Culture, Arts, Aarhus University3 School of Communication and Culture - Department of English, School of Communication and Culture, Arts, Aarhus University
A large number of studies of syntax and the brain, both aphasia studies and neuroimaging experiments, have shown that there is a correlation between phrasal movement (word-order variation) and activation in Brocas area. Some studies, however, have reported counterexamples to this correlation suggesting that the data should be accounted for with e.g. working memory or canonicity. Furthermore, several neuroimaging studies have reported Brocas area to be activated by semantic or pragmatic anomaly and implausibility. I present data from a neuroimaging study using fMRI on pragmatic anomaly and two types of phrasal movement, namely, questions and negative clauses in Danish, which not only shows that syntactic processing of displaced constituents is implemented in the brain as a distributed network, but also shows a surprising pattern: Word order changes that involve the beginning of the clause activate Brocas area, whereas word order changes that involve the middle of the clause do not. In particular, at least in Danish, such operations involve the anterior temporal cortex. Crucially, pragmatic anomaly also increases activation in Brocas area. I shall argue that the seemingly mixed results and the counterexamples in the literature are merely apparent counterexamples and can be accounted for by taking linguistic theory seriously, and that the brain activations reported in the neurolinguistic literature reflect the interfacing between syntactic structure building and other cognitive systems, including information structure and pragmatics.