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Comprehension through explanation as the interaction of the brain’s coherence and cognitive control networks
Discourse comprehension processes attempt to produce an elaborate and well-connected representation in the reader’s mind. A common network of regions including the angular gyrus, posterior cingulate, and dorsal frontal cortex appears to be involved in constructing coherent representations in a variety of tasks including social cognition tasks, narrative comprehension, and expository text comprehension. Reading strategies that require the construction of explicit inferences are used in the present research to examine how this coherence network interacts with other brain regions. A psychophysiological interaction analysis was used to examine regions showing changed functional connectivity with this coherence network when participants were engaged in either a non-inferencing reading strategy, paraphrasing, or a strategy requiring coherence-building inferences, self-explanation. Results of the analysis show that the coherence network increases in functional connectivity with a cognitive control network that may be specialized for the manipulation of semantic representations and the construction of new relations among these representations.