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Quantifier comprehension and processing – Role of language and numerical processing

Research Area: Basic/Translational Research  
Status: In progress Degree: Phd
Directors: Klaus Willmes, Anjan Chatterjee Students: Sailee Shikhare
Proposed start date: 2009-01-11 Proposed end date: 2012-06-11

Humans have been endowed with both, linguistic and numerical abilities since childhood. The ability to quickly and accurately perceive the surrounding world on the basis of language as well as numbers has been the focus of empirical investigation for long now. However, the behavioral and neural interdependence between these two systems still remains an unanswered question.

Quantifier expressions can be considered a rich assembly of words to investigate the contributions of both, the language and the number system. Keeping in mind the current approaches from both the domains, the present study aims to examine the contributions of the precise and approximate number system in the comprehension and processing of complex quantifiers. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the study further aims to pinpoint the neural regions associated with the evaluation process of assigning interpretation to a quantifier expression in the sentence. The visual stimuli consisting of proportions of blue and yellow circles combined with linguistic information aid in dissociating the intricate language processes from the number related ones mainly in healthy controls and patients with schizophrenia. Thus the goal of the current thesis is to unravel the anatomical signature of quantifier comprehension and processing in healthy and clinical populations, contributing to our understanding of quantifiers from a numerical cognition perspective.