Mechanism of case processing in the brain: An fMRI study

Satoru Yokoyama, Hideki Maki, Yosuke Hashimoto, Masahiko Toma, Ryuta Kawashima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In sentence comprehension research, the case system, which is one of the subsystems of the language processing system, has been assumed to play a crucial role in signifying relationships in sentences between noun phrases (NPs) and other elements, such as verbs, prepositions, nouns, and tense. However, so far, less attention has been paid to the question of how cases are processed in our brain. To this end, the current study used fMRI and scanned the brain activity of 15 native English speakers during an English-case processing task. The results showed that, while the processing of all cases activates the left inferior frontal gyrus and posterior part of the middle temporal gyrus, genitive case processing activates these two regions more than nominative and accusative case processing. Since the effect of the difference in behavioral performance among these three cases is excluded from brain activation data, the observed different brain activations would be due to the different processing patterns among the cases, indicating that cases are processed differently in our brains. The different brain activations between genitive case processing and nominative/accusative case processing may be due to the difference in structural complexity between them.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere40474
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jul 12

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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