Article

Modulation of the semantic system by word imageability

Department of Neurology, Division of Neuropsychology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.36). 09/2005; 27(1):188-200. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.04.012
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

A prevailing neurobiological theory of semantic memory proposes that part of our knowledge about concrete, highly imageable concepts is stored in the form of sensory-motor representations. While this theory predicts differential activation of the semantic system by concrete and abstract words, previous functional imaging studies employing this contrast have provided relatively little supporting evidence. We acquired event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data while participants performed a semantic similarity judgment task on a large number of concrete and abstract noun triads. Task difficulty was manipulated by varying the degree to which the words in the triad were similar in meaning. Concrete nouns, relative to abstract nouns, produced greater activation in a bilateral network of multimodal and heteromodal association areas, including ventral and medial temporal, posterior-inferior parietal, dorsal prefrontal, and posterior cingulate cortex. In contrast, abstract nouns produced greater activation almost exclusively in the left hemisphere in superior temporal and inferior frontal cortex. Increasing task difficulty modulated activation mainly in attention, working memory, and response monitoring systems, with almost no effect on areas that were modulated by imageability. These data provide critical support for the hypothesis that concrete, imageable concepts activate perceptually based representations not available to abstract concepts. In contrast, processing abstract concepts makes greater demands on left perisylvian phonological and lexical retrieval systems. The findings are compatible with dual coding theory and less consistent with single-code models of conceptual representation. The lack of overlap between imageability and task difficulty effects suggests that once the neural representation of a concept is activated, further maintenance and manipulation of that information in working memory does not further increase neural activation in the conceptual store.

Download full-text

Full-text

Available from: Michael Seidenberg
  • Source
    • "Abstract word processing also elicited left hemisphere activity but this was in the left IFG, middle temporal gyrus (MTG), and superior temporal gyrus (STG) (Wang et al., 2010). Findings from imaging studies have been variously used to support dual coding theory (Binder et al., 2005; Sabsevitz et al., 2005), or dual coding and context availability theory (Fiebach and Friederici, 2004). Yet other studies showed no differences in activity for concrete compared to abstract words (Kiehl et al., 1999; Perani et al., 1999; Grossman et al., 2002; Noppeney and Price, 2004), which makes an interpretation in support of either theory problematic. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: It is unclear whether healthy aging influences concreteness effects (i.e., the processing advantage seen for concrete over abstract words) and its associated neural mechanisms. We conducted an fMRI study on young and older healthy adults performing auditory lexical decisions on concrete vs. abstract words. We found that spoken comprehension of concrete and abstract words appears relatively preserved for healthy older individuals, including the concreteness effect. This preserved performance was supported by altered activity in left hemisphere regions including the inferior and middle frontal gyri, angular gyrus, and fusiform gyrus. This pattern is consistent with age-related compensatory mechanisms supporting spoken word processing.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience
  • Source
    • "aivio , 1971 , 1986 ) claim that abstract concepts are represented only through associations with other words , that is , through the linguistic system . This notion may have been reinforced by the results of neuroimaging research , which demonstrate more activation of the LH during the processing of abstract words compared to concrete words ( see Sabsevitz et al . , 2005 , for a review ) . However , Barsalou ( 1999 ) casts doubt on this notion and attributes this notion to the kind of task generally used to"
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Emotional words are processed rapidly and automatically in the left hemisphere (LH) and slowly, with the involvement of attention, in the right hemisphere (RH). This review aims to find the reason for this difference and suggests that emotional words can be processed superficially or deeply due to the involvement of the linguistic and imagery systems, respectively. During superficial processing, emotional words likely make connections only with semantically associated words in the LH. This part of the process is automatic and may be sufficient for the purpose of language processing. Deep processing, in contrast, seems to involve conceptual information and imagery of a word's perceptual and emotional properties using autobiographical memory contents. Imagery and the involvement of autobiographical memory likely differentiate between emotional and neutral word processing and explain the salient role of the RH in emotional word processing. It is concluded that the level of emotional word processing in the RH should be deeper than in the LH and, thus, it is conceivable that the slow mode of processing adds certain qualities to the output.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · Frontiers in Psychology
  • Source
    • "aivio , 1971 , 1986 ) claim that abstract concepts are represented only through associations with other words , that is , through the linguistic system . This notion may have been reinforced by the results of neuroimaging research , which demonstrate more activation of the LH during the processing of abstract words compared to concrete words ( see Sabsevitz et al . , 2005 , for a review ) . However , Barsalou ( 1999 ) casts doubt on this notion and attributes this notion to the kind of task generally used to"
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Emotionalwordsareprocessedrapidlyandautomaticallyinthelefthemisphere(LH)andslowly,withtheinvolvementofattention,intherighthemisphere(RH).Thisreviewaimstofindthereasonforthisdifferenceandsuggeststhatemotionalwordscanbeprocessedsuperficiallyordeeplyduetotheinvolvementofthelinguisticandimagerysystems,respectively.Duringsuperficialprocessing,emotionalwordslikelymakeconnectionsonlywithsemanticallyassociatedwordsintheLH.Thispartoftheprocessisautomaticandmaybesufficientforthepurposeoflanguageprocessing.Deepprocessing,incontrast,seemstoinvolveconceptualinformationandimageryofaword’sperceptualandemotionalpropertiesusingautobiographicalmemorycontents.ImageryandtheinvolvementofautobiographicalmemorylikelydifferentiatebetweenemotionalandneutralwordprocessingandexplainthesalientroleoftheRHinemotionalwordprocessing.ItisconcludedthatthelevelofemotionalwordprocessingintheRHshouldbedeeperthanintheLHand,thus,itisconceivablethattheslowmodeofprocessingaddscertainqualitiestotheoutput.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Frontiers in Psychology
Show more