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How concepts are encoded in the human brain: A modality independent, category-based cortical organization of semantic knowledge

Handjaras, Giacomo and Ricciardi, Emiliano and Leo, Andrea and Lenci, Alessandro and Cecchetti, Luca and Cosottini, Mirco and Marotta, Giovanna and Pietrini, Pietro How concepts are encoded in the human brain: A modality independent, category-based cortical organization of semantic knowledge. NeuroImage, 135. 232 - 242. ISSN 1053-8119 (2016)

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Abstract How conceptual knowledge is represented in the human brain remains to be determined. To address the differential role of low-level sensory-based and high-level abstract features in semantic processing, we combined behavioral studies of linguistic production and brain activity measures by functional magnetic resonance imaging in sighted and congenitally blind individuals while they performed a property-generation task with concrete nouns from eight categories, presented through visual and/or auditory modalities. Patterns of neural activity within a large semantic cortical network that comprised parahippocampal, lateral occipital, temporo-parieto-occipital and inferior parietal cortices correlated with linguistic production and were independent both from the modality of stimulus presentation (either visual or auditory) and the (lack of) visual experience. In contrast, selected modality-dependent differences were observed only when the analysis was limited to the individual regions within the semantic cortical network. We conclude that conceptual knowledge in the human brain relies on a distributed, modality-independent cortical representation that integrates the partial category and modality specific information retained at a regional level.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.04.063
Projects: Italian Grant “Semantic representations in the language of the blind: linguistic and neurocognitive studies” (PRIN 2008CM9MY3)
Funders: Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Lucca
Uncontrolled Keywords: Semantic knowledge; Blindness; Supramodality; Category-based organization; fMRI; Multivoxel pattern analysis
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Research Area: Computer Science and Applications
Depositing User: Caterina Tangheroni
Date Deposited: 10 May 2016 10:12
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2017 10:18
URI: http://eprints.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/3483

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