Principal investigators

Aya Ihara

Language Comprehension

Main Lab Location:

CiNet (Kobe)





Mailing Address:

588-2, Iwaoka, Iwaoka-cho, Nishi-ku, Kobe, Hyougo 651-2492, Japan


ihara at


My research focuses on mechanisms of language comprehension in human brain, and aims to quantitatively evaluate comprehension level of information using brain activity.

In daily communication, language does not always provide complete information. However, the human brain can comprehend a message quickly and flexibly depending on context. To investigate the neural basis of flexible language comprehension, in particular lexical representation and contextual processing, we use neuroimaging (MEG and fMRI), non-invasive brain stimulation (tDCS) and behavioral techniques. One of my interests is ambiguity resolution. We have shown that the left inferior frontal region plays an important role in selecting a contextual appropriate meaning. Furthermore, we have shown that comprehension can be enhanced by stimulation of the left inferior frontal region.

Our research leads to the development of technology that will help us comprehend and better utilize information, such as effective provision of information and communication interfaces to facilitate mutual understanding.

Selected Publications:

Ihara, A.S., Mimura, T., Soshi, T., Yorifuji, S., Hirata, M., Goto, T., Yoshinime, T., Umehara, H. & Fujimaki, N. Facilitated lexical ambiguity processing by transcranial direct current stimulation over the left inferior frontal cortex. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (in press).

Ihara, A., Wei, Q., Matani, A., Fujimaki, N., Yagura, H., Nogai, T., Umehara, H. & Murata, T. Language comprehension dependent on emotional context: A magnetoencephalography study. Neuroscience Research 72, 50-58 (2012).

Ihara, A., Hirata, M., Fujimaki, N., Goto, T., Umekawa, Y., Fujita, N., Terazono, Y., Matani, A., Wei, Q., Yoshimine, T., Yorifuji, S. & Murata, T. Neuroimaing study on brain asymmetries in situs inversus. Journal of the Neurological Sciences 288, 72-78 (2010).

Ihara, A., Hayakawa, T., Wei, Q., Munetsuna, S. & Fujimaki, N. Lexical access and selection of contextually appropriate meaning for ambiguous words. Neuroimage 38, 576-588 (2007).

Ihara, A. & Kakigi, R. Oscillatory activity in the occipitotemporal area related to the visual perception of letters of a first/second language and pseudoletters. Neuroimage 29, 789-796 (2006).