The basal ganglia circuits, dopamine, and ambiguous word processing: A neurobiological account of priming studies in Parkinson's disease

Helen J. Chenery*, Anthony J. Angwin, David A. Copland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Research into the processing of lexical ambiguities has provided a valuable paradigm for investigating the functional architecture of the language processing system in normal and neurologically impaired populations and specifically, how basal ganglia circuits and the neurotransmitter dopamine may act to enhance and/or suppress various meanings relative to the context in which the lexical ambiguity appears. In this review, we develop the hypothesis that an integrated basal ganglia thalamocortical circuit linking the striatum and inferior frontal cortex is involved in the enhancement and suppression of ambiguous word meanings when a lexical ambiguity is presented within a linguistic context. Reference to behavioral, neurophysiological, and neurochemical studies of subcortical function in both healthy populations and people with Parkinson's disease will be used to provide further support for the proposal that the subcortex is integrally involved in ambiguous word processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-364
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


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