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Not Lost in Translation: Neural Responses Shared Across Languages

Author(s): Honey, Christopher J.; Thompson, Christopher R.; Lerner, Yulia; Hasson, Uri

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Abstract: How similar are the brains of listeners who hear the same content expressed in different languages? We directly compared the functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) brain responses of English speakers and Russian speakers who listened to a real-life Russian narrative and its English translation. During the translation we tried to preserve the content of the narrative while reducing the structural similarities across languages. The story evoked similar brain responses across languages, which were invariant to the structural changes, beginning just outside early auditory areas and extending through temporal, parietal and frontal cerebral cortices. Surprisingly, the inter-language similarity in these areas is nearly as strong as the similarity of the brain responses within each language group. The present results demonstrate that the human brain processes reallife information in a manner that is largely insensitive to the language in which that information is conveyed. The methods introduced here can potentially be used to quantify the transmission of meaning across cultural and linguistic boundaries.
Publication Date: 31-Oct-2012
Electronic Publication Date: 31-Oct-2012
Citation: Honey, CJ, Thompson, CR, Lerner, Y, Hasson, U. (2012). Not Lost in Translation: Neural Responses Shared Across Languages. Journal of Neuroscience, 32 (44), 15277 - 15283. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1800-12.2012
DOI: doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1800-12.2012
ISSN: 0270-6474
EISSN: 1529-2401
Pages: 15277 - 15283
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Journal of Neuroscience
Version: Author's manuscript

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