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The neural basis of lexicon and grammar in first and second language: the declarative/procedural model

The neural basis of lexicon and grammar in first and second language: the declarative/procedural model

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The neural basis of lexiconand grammar in ®rst andsecond language: thedeclarative/procedural model*
Georgetown UniversityTheoretical and empirical aspects of the neural bases of the mental lexicon and the mental grammar in ®rst and second language (L1 and L2) are discussed. It is argued that in L1, the learning, representation, and processing of lexicon and  grammar depend on two well-studied brain memory systems. According to the declarative/procedural model, lexical memory depends upon declarative memory, which is rooted in temporal lobe structures, and has been implicated in thelearning and use of fact and event knowledge. Aspects of grammar are subserved by procedural memory, which is rooted in left frontal/basal-ganglia structures, and has been implicated in the acquisition and expression of motor and cognitiveskills and habits. This view is supported by psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic evidence. In contrast, linguistic formswhose grammatical computation depends upon procedural memory in L1 are posited to be largely dependent upondeclarative/lexical memory in L2. They may be either memorized or constructed by explicit rules learned in declarativememory. Thus in L2, such linguistic forms should be less dependent on procedural memory, and more dependent ondeclarative memory, than in L1. Moreover, this shift to declarative memory is expected to increase with increasing age of exposure to L2, and with less experience (practice) with the language, which is predicted to improve the learning of  grammatical rules by procedural memory. A retrospective examination of lesion, neuroimaging, and electrophysiological studies investigating the neural bases of L2 is presented. It is argued that the data from these studies support the predictions of the declarative/procedural model.
In the study of language, a fundamental distinction isdrawn between the memorized ``mental lexicon'' andthe computational ``mental grammar''. The lexiconcontains memorized words ± that is, pairings of sound and meaning. It must contain at least thosewords whose phonological forms and meaningscannot be derived from each other (i.e., the sound± meaning pairings are arbitrary), such as the non-compositional word
. It may also contain othernon-compositional forms, smaller or larger thanwords: bound morphemes (e.g., the -
past tensesuf®x) and idiomatic phrases (e.g.,
kick the bucket
).The grammar contains rules, including operationsand constraints, which underlie the productivesequential and hierarchical combination of lexicalforms and abstract representations into complexstructures, including complex abstract representa-tions, words, phrases, and sentences. That is, thegrammar subserves the computation of compositionallinguistic forms whose meanings are transparentlyderivable from their structures. For example, a mentalrule which speci®es that English past tense forms arederived from the concatenation of a verb stem and an
suf®x would allow us to productively computepast tenses from new words (e.g.,
)and from novel forms (e.g.,
)(Chomsky, 1995; Pinker, 1994). Rule-derived formscan thus be computed in real-time, and so do not needto be memorized ± although even compositionalforms (
) could in principle be memorized.Here I present a mental model of lexicon andgrammar. The model addresses representational,computational, and neural aspects of the two lan-guage capacities. Although it was developed toexplain native language (L1), this paper focuses onextending the model's predictions to non-native lan-guage (L2). The model's claims are evaluated in thecontext of existing empirical evidence. This paperfocuses on the neural correlates of lexicon andgrammar; therefore only neurolinguistic (no psycho-linguistic) evidence will be discussed.
Address for correspondenceMichael Ullman, Department of Neuroscience, Research Building, Georgetown University, 3900 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington,DC 20007
Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 4 (1), 2001, 105±122
2001 Cambridge University Press
* I thank Aaron Newman, Roumyana Pancheva, and KarstenSteinhauer for valuable discussions and suggestions. Supportwas provided by a McDonnell-Pew grant in Cognitive Neuro-science, NSF SBR-9905273, NIH MH58189, and ArmyDAMD17±93±V-3018/19/20 and DAMD-17±99±2±9007.
The neural bases of lexicon and grammar in L1
declarative/procedural model 
of lexicon andgrammar posits that, for native speakers of a lan-guage, aspects of the lexicon/grammar distinction aretied to the distinction between two well-studied brainmemory systems (Ullman, 2000a, 2001; Ullman et al.,1997), each of which has been implicated in a parti-cular set of non-language functions (Mishkin,Malamut, and Bachevalier, 1984; Schacter andTulving, 1994; Squire, Knowlton, and Musen, 1993).One system is often referred to as the ``declara-tive'' memory system. It has been implicated in thelearning, representation, and use of knowledge aboutfacts (``semantic knowledge'') and events (``episodicknowledge''). It may be particularly important forlearning arbitrarily related information ± that is, forthe associative/contextual binding of information. Ithas been argued that the information learned by thissystem is not informationally encapsulated, beingaccessible to multiple response systems (Squire andZola, 1996). Moreover, this information may beconsciously (``explicitly'') recollected. The memorysystem is subserved by medial temporal lobe regions(the hippocampus and related structures), which areconnected largely with temporal and parietal neo-cortical regions (Suzuki and Amaral, 1994). Learningnew information involves all parts of the system.However, the medial temporal components appear tobe required to consolidate new memories. Memorieseventually become independent of the medial tem-poral lobe structures, and dependent upon neo-cortical regions, particularly in the temporal lobes,possibly primarily (but not only) in the left hemi-sphere (see Hodges and Patterson, 1997; Schacterand Tulving, 1994; Squire et al., 1993; Squire andZola, 1996).The other system is usually referred to as the``procedural memory'', ``skill'', or ``habit'' system. Ithas been implicated in the learning of new, and thecontrol of long-established, motor and cognitive``skills'' or ``habits'' (e.g., from simple motor acts toriding a bicycle to skilled game playing). Neither thelearning nor the remembering of these proceduresappears to be accessible to conscious memory ± thusthe system is often referred to as an ``implicitmemory'' system (see De Renzi, 1989; Mishkin et al.,1984; Squire et al., 1993). It has been argued that theprocedural system is largely ``informationally encap-sulated'' (see Fodor, 1983), having relatively littleaccess to other response systems (Squire and Zola,1996). The system may be particularly important forlearning and performing skills involving sequences(Graybiel, 1995; Willingham, 1998).The procedural system is rooted in frontal/basal-ganglia structures, with a possible role for inferiorparietal regions (De Renzi, 1989; Squire et al., 1993).Evidence from impairments in expressing establishedmotor skills (in ideomotor apraxia) suggests that thesystem may be especially dependent upon left hemi-sphere structures (De Renzi, 1989; Heilman, Watson,and Rothi, 1997). Inferior parietal structures mayserve as a repository of stored knowledge of skills,including information on stored sequences (Heilmanet al., 1997). The basal ganglia and the Supplemen-tary Motor Area (SMA) may play a particularlyimportant role in the processing of sequences(Kandel, Schwartz, and Jessell, 2000; Willingham,1998). The basal ganglia also appear to play animportant role in the learning of new skills and habits(Schacter and Tulving, 1994; Squire and Zola, 1996).The basal ganglia circuits are connected largely withfrontal cortex (Alexander, Crutcher, and DeLong,1990; De Renzi, 1989; Squire et al., 1993). Thesecircuits appear to be parallel and functionally segre-gated, each receiving projections from a particular setof cortical and subcortical structures, and projectingvia the thalamus to a particular cortical region,apparently largely in frontal cortex. Thus a basalganglia ``motor circuit'' projects to frontal motorareas, while other circuits project to other frontalareas. The different basal ganglia circuits may havesimilar synaptic organizations, suggesting thatsimilar neuronal operations might be performed atcomparable stages of each circuit (Alexander et al.,1990). It has been independently hypothesized thatthe frontal lobes, to which the basal ganglia project,may also be organized in a similar manner, withdistinct topographically organized regions playingthe same or similar computational roles in differentdomains (Shimamura, 1995).The declarative/procedural model posits that thedeclarative and procedural memory systems underliethe learning, representation, and use of aspects of lexical and grammatical knowledge, respectively. Themodel is motivated by a number of commonalitiesbetween the two memory systems and the two respec-tive language capacities (see Ullman, 2000a; Ullman,2001).According to the declarative/procedural model,the declarative memory system subserves an associa-tive memory that underlies stored knowledge aboutwords, including their sounds, their meanings, andother memorized information. The consolidation of new words relies on medial temporal lobe structures.Eventually the knowledge of words becomes indepen-dent of these structures, and dependent on neocortex,particularly in temporal and temporo-parietalregions. Temporal lobe regions may be particularlyimportant in the storage of word meanings, whereas106
Michael T. Ullman
temporo-parietal regions may be more important inthe storage of word sounds, including their phono-logical sequence information. Extrapolating fromevidence from the study of declarative memory leadsto the suggestion that lexical memory is not informa-tionally encapsulated, being accessible to multipleresponse systems.It is posited that the procedural memory systemsubserves the non-conscious (implicit) learning anduse of aspects of a symbol-manipulating grammar,across grammatical sub-domains, including syntax,non-lexical semantics, morphology, and phonology.This system may be particularly important in thelearning and computation of sequential and hier-archical structures (i.e., in grammatical structurebuilding). Once learned, knowledge of sequences maydepend upon left inferior parietal (that is, temporo-parietal) regions, which thus may serve as a locus of convergence between the declarative and proceduralsystems. The learning of rules is expected to be atleast partially dependent upon basal ganglia struc-tures. One or more particular basal ganglia circuitsor sub-circuits, projecting to particular frontalregion(s), may subserve grammatical processing, andperhaps even ®ner-grained distinctions, such as mor-phological (morpho-phonological) versus syntacticstructure building. On this view, the frontal/basal-ganglia structures are domain-general in that theysubserve non-linguistic as well as linguistic processes,but contain parallel domain-speci®c circuits.The declarative/procedural model contrasts withtwo previously proposed theoretical frameworks,both of which have addressed the computational andneural bases of language.Previously proposed (here termed ``traditional'')``dual-mechanism'' theories posit distinct cognitiveand neural components for the two capacities(Chomsky, 1995; Pinker, 1994). On this view, thelearning, representation, and/or processing of wordsand associated information in a rote or associativememory is subserved by one or more components,which may be specialized and dedicated (``domain-speci®c'') to these functions (Chomsky, 1995; Fodor,1983; Forster, 1979; Levelt, 1989). It has beenclaimed that the use of stored words may be espe-cially dependent upon left posterior regions, particu-larly temporal and temporo-parietal structures(Damasio and Damasio, 1992). In contrast, thelearning, knowledge, and/or processing of grammarare posited to be subserved by one or more compo-nents that are specialized and dedicated to theirlinguistic functions, and whose computations dependupon innately speci®ed constructs (Chomsky, 1995;Fodor, 1983; Pinker, 1994). The use of grammar hasbeen claimed to be dependent on left frontal cortex,particularly Broca's area (the inferior left frontalgyrus, which contains the cytoarchitectonic Brod-mann's areas 44 and 45 (Damasio, 1992)) and adja-cent anterior regions (Caramazza, Berndt, Basili, andKoller, 1981; Grodzinsky, 2000).``Single-mechanism'' theories posit that thelearning and use of the words and rules of languagedepend upon a single computational system withbroad anatomic distribution (Bates and Mac-Whinney, 1989; MacDonald, Pearlmutter, andSeidenberg, 1994). On this view, there is no cate-gorical distinction between non-compositional andcompositional forms. Rather, rules are only descrip-tive entities, and the language mechanism graduallylearns the entire statistical structure of language,from the arbitrary mappings in non-compositionalforms to the rule-like mappings of compositionalforms. Modern connectionism has offered a compu-tational framework for the single mechanism view. Ithas been argued that the learning, representation,and processing of grammatical rules as well aslexical items take place over a large number of inter-connected simple processing units. Learning occursby adjusting weights on connections on the basis of statistical contingencies in the environment (Elman,Bates, Johnson, Karmiloff-Smith, Parisi, andPlunkett, 1996; Rumelhart and McClelland, 1986;Seidenberg, 1997).Thus the declarative/procedural model of languagediffers from both traditional dual-mechanism the-ories and single-mechanism theories. Although themodel shares the perspective of traditional dual-mechanism theories in positing that lexicon andgrammar are subserved by distinct (separable) com-putational systems, with posterior and anteriorneural correlates, respectively, it diverges from thesetheories where they assume components dedicated(domain-speci®c) to each of the two capacities. Con-versely, while the model shares with single-mechanism theories the view that the two capacitiesare subserved by domain-general circuitry, it divergesfrom them where they link both capacities to a singlemechanism with broad anatomic distribution.The three perspectives make different theoreticalclaims with respect to four issues: separability, com-putation, domain-generality, and anatomical locali-zation. The differing theoretical claims in turn lead todistinct predictions, allowing the theories to be distin-guished empirically.
. Both traditional dual-mechanismmodels and the declarative/procedural model positseparability ± that lexicon and grammar are sub-served by separable cognitive systems, with at leastpartially distinct neural correlates. Thus these twomodels predict double dissociations between the two107
Lexicon and grammar in L1 and L2

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