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Soutenance de thèse : Samuel EL BOUZAIDI TIALI

Thesis defence

On 21 February 2022

Language comprehension characterization : semantic and syntactic information implication in relation with cognitive control mechanisms

Language comprehension, although ubiquitous in everyday life, is a complex cognitive process whose mechanisms and underlying cortical networks are still poorly understood. During comprehension different cognitive processes seem to come into play. In particular, it is proposed that comprehension performance is not only modulated by the type of linguistic information processed but also by domain-general mechanisms. The aim of this thesis was to evaluate the interactions between oral language comprehension and cognitive control, and to characterize the processing of semantic and syntactic information during comprehension and in the interactions previously described. To this end, we conducted several studies with behavioral measures (Studies 1-4) and intracranial electroencephalography –sEEG– (Studies 5-7). In these studies, we developed different experimental paradigms to assess the relationship between language comprehension and cognitive control processes in a causal and correlational manner. We have proposed linguistic manipulations related to lexico-semantic and syntactic information. Our studies show that in situations of linguistic ambiguity, cognitive control processes are involved and allow better performances. Moreover, according to our results the links between oral language comprehension and cognitive control seem to be bidirectional. Our sEEG studies first focused on characterizing the functional role of the different frequency bands (Alpha, Beta, Low-gamma and High-gamma) during semantic and syntactic processing. These studies show that the canonical language network presents an activity pattern that is mostly marked by a lack of functional specificity across the four frequency bands explored. At the temporal level two subnetworks seem to emerge in terms of spectral activity patterns with semantic processing supported by high frequency activity while syntactic processing seems to be supported by lower frequency activities. Furthermore, the results show that the same region can show functional dissociation in relation to the frequency evaluated. Finally, we evaluated the effect of this type of functional dissociation in relation to cognitive control processes (attentional control). This last (in progress) study, seems to show attentional modulations within the ventral and dorsal pathways according to the linguistic specialization of the evaluated network. All of these studies provide evidence for the existence of links between the oral language comprehension and cognitive control processes. These results open applied perspectives in line with the possibility to improve performance in one domain by training another one.

Jury :
Pr. Barbara KOPKE (Rapporteure)
Dr. Michel HOEN (Rapporteur)
Pr. Marie-Line BOSSE (Examinatrice)
Pr. Frédéric ISEL (Examinateur)
Dr. Stéphanie RIES-CORNOU (Examinatrice)
Dr. Marcela PERRONE-BERTOLOTTI (Directrice de thèse)

Keywords : language understanding, cognitive control, semantics, syntax, sEEG, language


On 21 February 2022
Complément date




01/10/2021 - 28/02/2022

Submitted on 20 November 2023

Updated on 20 November 2023