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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2020) 32 (3): 467–483.
Published: 01 March 2020
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AbstractView article PDF
Distributed brain systems contribute to representation of semantic knowledge. Whether sensory and motor systems of the brain are causally involved in representing conceptual knowledge is an especially controversial question. Here, we tested 57 chronic left-hemisphere stroke patients using a semantic similarity judgment task consisting of manipulable and nonmanipulable nouns. Three complementary methods were used to assess the neuroanatomical correlates of semantic processing: voxel-based lesion–symptom mapping, resting-state functional connectivity, and gray matter fractional anisotropy. The three measures provided converging evidence that injury to the brain networks required for action observation, execution, planning, and visuomotor coordination are associated with specific deficits in manipulable noun comprehension relative to nonmanipulable items. Damage or disrupted connectivity of areas such as the middle posterior temporal gyrus, anterior inferior parietal lobe, and premotor cortex was related specifically to the impairment of manipulable noun comprehension. These results suggest that praxis brain networks contribute especially to the comprehension of manipulable object nouns.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2020) 32 (2): 256–271.
Published: 01 February 2020
AbstractView article PDF
Left-hemisphere brain damage commonly affects patients' abilities to produce and comprehend syntactic structures, a condition typically referred to as “agrammatism.” The neural correlates of agrammatism remain disputed in the literature, and distributed areas have been implicated as important predictors of performance, for example, Broca's area, anterior temporal areas, and temporo-parietal areas. We examined the association between damage to specific language-related ROIs and impaired syntactic processing in acute aphasia. We hypothesized that damage to the posterior middle temporal gyrus, and not Broca's area, would predict syntactic processing abilities. One hundred four individuals with acute aphasia (<20 days poststroke) were included in the study. Structural MRI scans were obtained, and all participants completed a 45-item sentence–picture matching task. We performed an ROI-based stepwise regression analyses to examine the relation between cortical brain damage and impaired comprehension of canonical and noncanonical sentences. Damage to the posterior middle temporal gyrus was the strongest predictor for overall task performance and performance on noncanonical sentences. Damage to the angular gyrus was the strongest predictor for performance on canonical sentences, and damage to the posterior superior temporal gyrus predicted noncanonical scores when performance on canonical sentences was included as a cofactor. Overall, our models showed that damage to temporo-parietal and posterior temporal areas was associated with impaired syntactic comprehension. Our results indicate that the temporo-parietal area is crucially implicated in complex syntactic processing, whereas the role of Broca's area may be complementary.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2019) 31 (3): 431–441.
Published: 01 March 2019
AbstractView article PDF
In everyday life, we often make judgments regarding the sequence of events, for example, deciding whether a baseball runner's foot hit the plate before or after the ball hit the glove. Numerous studies have examined the functional correlates of temporal processing using variations of the temporal order judgment and simultaneity judgment (SJ) tasks. To perform temporal order judgment tasks, observers must bind temporal information with identity and/or spatial information relevant to the task itself. SJs, on the other hand, require observers to detect stimulus asynchrony but not the order of stimulus presentation and represent a purer measure of temporal processing. Some previous studies suggest that these temporal decisions rely primarily on right-hemisphere parietal structures, whereas others provide evidence that temporal perception depends on bilateral TPJ or inferior frontal regions (inferior frontal gyrus). Here, we report brain activity elicited by a visual SJ task. Our methods are unique given our use of two orthogonal control conditions, discrimination of spatial orientation and color, which were used to control for brain activation associated with the classic dorsal (“where/how”) and ventral (“what”) visual pathways. Our neuroimaging experiment shows that performing the SJ task selectively activated a bilateral network in the parietal (TPJ) and frontal (inferior frontal gyrus) cortices. We argue that SJ tasks are a purer measure of temporal perception because they do not require observers to process either identity or spatial information, both of which may activate separate cognitive networks.