Retrieval of conceptual information from action pictures causes greater activation than from object pictures bilaterally in human motion areas (MT/MST) and nearby temporal regions. By contrast, retrieval of conceptual information from action words causes greater activation in left middle and superior temporal gyri, anterior and dorsal to the MT/MST. We performed two fMRI experiments to replicate and extend these findings regarding action words. In the first experiment, subjects performed conceptual judgments of action and object words under conditions that stressed visual semantic information. Under these conditions, action words again activated posterior temporal regions close to, but not identical with, the MT/MST. In the second experiment, we included conceptual judgments of manipulable object words in addition to judgments of action and animal words. Both action and manipulable object judgments caused greater activity than animal judgments in the posterior middle temporal gyrus. Both of these experiments support the hypothesis that middle temporal gyrus activation is related to accessing conceptual information about motion attributes, rather than alternative accounts on the basis of lexical or grammatical factors. Furthermore, these experiments provide additional support for the notion of a concrete to abstract gradient of motion representations with the lateral occipito-temporal cortex, extending anterior and dorsal from the MT/MST towards the peri-sylvian cortex.

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