Anterior temporal lobes mediate semantic representation: mimicking semantic dementia by using rTMS in normal participants.

Neuroscience and Aphasia Research Unit, School of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.81). 01/2008; 104(50):20137-41. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0707383104
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Studies of semantic dementia and PET neuroimaging investigations suggest that the anterior temporal lobes (ATL) are a critical substrate for semantic representation. In stark contrast, classical neurological models of comprehension do not include ATL, and likewise functional MRI studies often fail to show activations in the ATL, reinforcing the classical view. Using a novel application of low-frequency, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the ATL, we demonstrate that the behavioral pattern of semantic dementia can be mirrored in neurologically intact participants: Specifically, we show that temporary disruption to neural processing in the ATL produces a selective semantic impairment leading to significant slowing in both picture naming and word comprehension but not to other equally demanding, nonsemantic cognitive tasks.

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