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From meaning to categorization: The hierarchical recruitment of brain circuits selective for action verbs

From meaning to categorization: The hierarchical recruitment of brain circuits selective for action verbs

Published in: Cortex, Volume 100, March 2018, 95-100

Abstract
“Sensorimotor and affective brain systems are known to be involved in language processing. However, to date it is still debated whether this involvement is a crucial step of semantic processing or, on the contrary, it is dependent on the specific context or strategy adopted to solve a task at hand. The present electroencephalographic (EEG) study is aimed at investigating which brain circuits are engaged when processing written verbs. By aligning event-related potentials (ERPs) both to the verb onset and to the motor response indexing the accomplishment of a semantic task of categorization, we were able to dissociate the relative stimulus-related and response-related cognitive components at play, respectively. EEG signal source reconstruction showed that while the recruitment of sensorimotor fronto-parietal circuits was time-locked with action verb onset, a left temporal-parietal circuit was time-locked to the task accomplishment. Crucially, by comparing the time course of both these bottom-up and top-down cognitive components, it appears that the frontal motor involvement precedes the task-related temporal-parietal activity. The present findings suggest that the recruitment of fronto-parietal sensorimotor circuits is independent of the specific strategy adopted to solve a semantic task and, given its temporal hierarchy, it may provide crucial information to brain circuits involved in the categorization task. Eventually, a discussion on how the present results may contribute to the clinical literature on patients affected by disorders specifically impairing the motor system is provided.”

Written by: Riccardo Dalla Volta, Pietro Avanzini, Doriana De Marco, Maurizio Gentilucci, Maddalena Fabbri-Destro
For full text: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2017.09.012

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