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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2006) 18 (5): 689–700.
Published: 01 May 2006
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Little is known about the neural mechanisms that control attentional modulation of deviance detection in the auditory modality. In this study, we manipulated the difficulty of a primary task to test the relation between task difficulty and the detection of infrequent, task-irrelevant deviant (D) tones (1300 Hz) presented among repetitive standard (S) tones (1000 Hz). Simultaneous functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)/event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded from 21 subjects performing a two-alternative forced-choice duration discrimination task (short and long tones of equal probability). The duration of the short tone was always 50 msec. The duration of the long tone was 100 msec in the easy task and 60 msec in the difficult task. As expected, response accuracy decreased and response time (RT) increased in the difficult compared with the easy task. Performance was also poorer for D than for S tones, indicating distraction by task-irrelevant frequency information on trials involving D tones. In the difficult task, an amplitude increase was observed in the difference waves for N1 and P3a, ERP components associated with increased attention to deviant sounds. The mismatch negativity (MMN) response, associated with passive deviant detection, was larger in the easy task, demonstrating the susceptibility of this component to attentional manipulations. The fMRI contrast D > S in the difficult task revealed activation on the right superior temporal gyrus (STG) and extending ventrally into the superior temporal sulcus, suggesting this region's involvement in involuntary attention shifting toward unattended, infrequent sounds. Conversely, passive deviance detection, as reflected by the MMN, was associated with more dorsal activation on the STG. These results are consistent with the view that the dorsal STG region is responsive to mismatches between the memory trace of the standard and the incoming deviant sound, whereas the ventral STG region is activated by involuntary shifts of attention to task-irrelevant auditory features.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2005) 17 (6): 905–917.
Published: 01 June 2005
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Behavioral and neurophysiological effects of word imageability and concreteness remain a topic of central interest in cognitive neuroscience and could provide essential clues for understanding how the brain processes conceptual knowledge. We examined these effects using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging while participants identified concrete and abstract words. Relative to nonwords, concrete and abstract words both activated a left-lateralized network of multimodal association areas previously linked with verbal semantic processing. Areas in the left lateral temporal lobe were equally activated by both word types, whereas bilateral regions including the angular gyrus and the dorsal prefrontal cortex were more strongly engaged by concrete words. Relative to concrete words, abstract words activated left inferior frontal regions previously linked with phonological and verbal working memory processes. The results show overlapping but partly distinct neural systems for processing concrete and abstract concepts, with greater involvement of bilateral association areas during concrete word processing, and processing of abstract concepts almost exclusively by the left hemisphere.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2003) 15 (3): 372–393.
Published: 01 April 2003
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People can discriminate real words from nonwords even when the latter are orthographically and phonologically word-like, presumably because words activate specific lexical and/or semantic information. We investigated the neural correlates of this identification process using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Participants performed a visual lexical decision task under conditions that encouraged specific word identification: Nonwords were matched to words on orthographic and phonologic characteristics, and accuracy was emphasized over speed. To identify neural responses associated with activation of nonsemantic lexical information, processing of words and nonwords with many lexical neighbors was contrasted with processing of items with no neighbors. The fMRI data showed robust differences in activation by words and word-like nonwords, with stronger word activation occurring in a distributed, left hemisphere network previously associated with semantic processing, and stronger nonword activation occurring in a posterior inferior frontal area previously associated with grapheme-to-phoneme mapping. Contrary to lexicon-based models of word recognition, there were no brain areas in which activation increased with neighborhood size. For words, activation in the left prefrontal, angular gyrus, and ventrolateral temporal areas was stronger for items without neighbors, probably because accurate responses to these items were more dependent on activation of semantic information. The results show neural correlates of access to specific word information. The absence of facilitatory lexical neighborhood effects on activation in these brain regions argues for an interpretation in terms of semantic access. Because subjects performed the same task throughout, the results are unlikely to be due to task-specific attentional, strategic, or expectancy effects.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (1999) 11 (1): 80–93.
Published: 01 January 1999
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Localized, task-induced decreases in cerebral blood flow are a frequent finding in functional brain imaging research but remain poorly understood. One account of these phenomena postulates processes ongoing during conscious, resting states that are interrupted or inhibited by task performance. Psychological evidence suggests that conscious humans are engaged almost continuously in adaptive processes involving semantic knowledge retrieval, representation in awareness, and directed manipulation of represented knowledge for organization, problem-solving, and planning. If interruption of such “conceptual” processes accounts for task-induced deactivation, tasks that also engage these conceptual processes should not cause deactivation. Furthermore, comparisons between conceptual and nonconceptual tasks should show activation during conceptual tasks of the same brain areas that are “deactivated” relative to rest. To test this model, functional magnetic resonance imaging data were acquired during a resting state, a perceptual task, and a semantic retrieval task. A network of left-hemisphere poly-modal cortical regions showed higher signal values during the resting state than during the perceptual task but equal values during the resting and semantic conditions. This result is consistent with the proposal that perceptual tasks interrupt processes ongoing during rest that involve many of the same brain areas engaged during semantic retrieval. As further evidence for this model, the same network of brain areas was activated in two direct comparisons between semantic and perceptual processing tasks. This same “conceptual processing” network was also identified in several previous studies that contrasted semantic and perceptual tasks or resting and active states. The model proposed here offers a unified account of these findings and may help to explain several unanticipated results from prior studies of semantic processing.