Francesca Carota

Publications

Displaying 1 - 9 of 9
  • Carota, F., Kriegeskorte, N., Nili, H., & Pulvermüller, F. (2017). Representational Similarity Mapping of Distributional Semantics in Left Inferior Frontal, Middle Temporal, and Motor Cortex. Cerebral Cortex, 27(1), 294-309. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhw379.

    Abstract

    Language comprehension engages a distributed network of frontotemporal, parietal, and sensorimotor regions, but it is still unclear how meaning of words and their semantic relationships are represented and processed within these regions and to which degrees lexico-semantic representations differ between regions and semantic types. We used fMRI and representational similarity analysis to relate word-elicited multivoxel patterns to semantic similarity between action and object words. In left inferior frontal (BA 44-45-47), left posterior middle temporal and left precentral cortex, the similarity of brain response patterns reflected semantic similarity among action-related verbs, as well as across lexical classes-between action verbs and tool-related nouns and, to a degree, between action verbs and food nouns, but not between action verbs and animal nouns. Instead, posterior inferior temporal cortex exhibited a reverse response pattern, which reflected the semantic similarity among object-related nouns, but not action-related words. These results show that semantic similarity is encoded by a range of cortical areas, including multimodal association (e.g., anterior inferior frontal, posterior middle temporal) and modality-preferential (premotor) cortex and that the representational geometries in these regions are partly dependent on semantic type, with semantic similarity among action-related words crossing lexical-semantic category boundaries.
  • Carota, F., Bozic, M., & Marslen-Wilson, W. (2016). Decompositional Representation of Morphological Complexity: Multivariate fMRI Evidence from Italian. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 28(12), 1878-1896. doi:10.1162/jocn\_a\_01009.

    Abstract

    Derivational morphology is a cross-linguistically dominant mechanism for word formation, combining existing words with derivational affixes to create new word forms. However, the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying the representation and processing of such forms remain unclear. Recent cross-linguistic neuroimaging research suggests that derived words are stored and accessed as whole forms, without engaging the left-hemisphere perisylvian network associated with combinatorial processing of syntactically and inflectionally complex forms. Using fMRI with a “simple listening” no-task procedure, we reexamine these suggestions in the context of the root-based combinatorially rich Italian lexicon to clarify the role of semantic transparency (between the derived form and its stem) and affix productivity in determining whether derived forms are decompositionally represented and which neural systems are involved. Combined univariate and multivariate analyses reveal a key role for semantic transparency, modulated by affix productivity. Opaque forms show strong cohort competition effects, especially for words with nonproductive suffixes (ventura, “destiny”). The bilateral frontotemporal activity associated with these effects indicates that opaque derived words are processed as whole forms in the bihemispheric language system. Semantically transparent words with productive affixes (libreria, “bookshop”) showed no effects of lexical competition, suggesting morphologically structured co-representation of these derived forms and their stems, whereas transparent forms with nonproductive affixes (pineta, pine forest) show intermediate effects. Further multivariate analyses of the transparent derived forms revealed affix productivity effects selectively involving left inferior frontal regions, suggesting that the combinatorial and decompositional processes triggered by such forms can vary significantly across languages.
  • Carota, F., Moseley, R., & Pulvermüller, F. (2012). Body-part-specific Representations of Semantic Noun Categories. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24(6), 1492-1509. doi:10.1162/jocn\_a\_00219.

    Abstract

    Word meaning processing in the brain involves ventrolateral temporal cortex, but a semantic contribution of the dorsal stream, especially frontocentral sensorimotor areas, has been controversial. We here examine brain activation during passive reading of object-related nouns from different semantic categories, notably animal, food, and tool words, matched for a range of psycholinguistic features. Results show ventral stream activation in temporal cortex along with category-specific activation patterns in both ventral and dorsal streams, including sensorimotor systems and adjacent pFC. Precentral activation reflected action-related semantic features of the word categories. Cortical regions implicated in mouth and face movements were sparked by food words, and hand area activation was seen for tool words, consistent with the actions implicated by the objects the words are used to speak about. Furthermore, tool words specifically activated the right cerebellum, and food words activated the left orbito-frontal and fusiform areas. We discuss our results in the context of category-specific semantic deficits in the processing of words and concepts, along with previous neuroimaging research, and conclude that specific dorsal and ventral areas in frontocentral and temporal cortex index visual and affective–emotional semantic attributes of object-related nouns and action-related affordances of their referent objects.
  • Moseley, R., Carota, F., Hauk, O., Mohr, B., & Pulvermüller, F. (2012). A role for the motor system in binding abstract emotional meaning. Cerebral Cortex, 22(7), 1634-1647. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhr238.

    Abstract

    Sensorimotor areas activate to action- and object-related words, but their role in abstract meaning processing is still debated. Abstract emotion words denoting body internal states are a critical test case because they lack referential links to objects. If actions expressing emotion are crucial for learning correspondences between word forms and emotions, emotion word–evoked activity should emerge in motor brain systems controlling the face and arms, which typically express emotions. To test this hypothesis, we recruited 18 native speakers and used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare brain activation evoked by abstract emotion words to that by face- and arm-related action words. In addition to limbic regions, emotion words indeed sparked precentral cortex, including body-part–specific areas activated somatotopically by face words or arm words. Control items, including hash mark strings and animal words, failed to activate precentral areas. We conclude that, similar to their role in action word processing, activation of frontocentral motor systems in the dorsal stream reflects the semantic binding of sign and meaning of abstract words denoting emotions and possibly other body internal states.
  • Carota, F., Desmurget, M., & Sirigu, A. (2010). Forward Modeling Mediates Motor Awareness. In W. Sinnott-Armstrong, & L. Nadel (Eds.), Conscious Will and Responsibility - A Tribute to Benjamin Libet (pp. 97-108). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Abstract

    This chapter focuses on the issue of motor awareness. It addresses three main questions: What exactly are we aware of when making a movement? What is the contribution of afferent and efferent signals to motor awareness? What are the neural bases of motor awareness? It reviews evidence that the motor system is mainly aware of its intention. As long as the goal is achieved, nothing reaches awareness about the kinematic details of the ongoing movements, even when substantial corrections have to be implemented to attain the intended state. The chapter also shows that motor awareness relies mainly on the central predictive computations carried out within the posterior parietal cortex. The outcome of these computations is contrasted with the peripheral reafferent input to build a veridical motor awareness. Some evidence exists that this process involves the premotor areas.
  • Carota, F., Posada, A., Harquel, S., Delpuech, C., Bertrand, O., & Sirigu, A. (2010). Neural dynamics of the intention to speak. Cerebral Cortex, 20(8), 1891-1897. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhp255.

    Abstract

    When we talk we communicate our intentions. Although the origin of intentional action is debated in cognitive neuroscience, the question of how the brain generates the intention in speech remains still open. Using magnetoencephalography, we investigated the cortical dynamics engaged when healthy subjects attended to either their intention to speak or their actual speech. We found that activity in the right and left parietal cortex increased before subjects became aware of intending to speak. Within the time window of parietal activation, we also observed a transient left frontal activity in Broca's area, a crucial region for inner speech. During attention to speech, neural activity was detected in left prefrontal and temporal areas and in the temporoparietal junction. In agreement with previous results, our findings suggest that the parietal cortex plays a multimodal role in monitoring intentional mechanisms in both action and language. The coactivation of parietal regions and Broca's area may constitute the cortical circuit specific for controlling intentional processes during speech.
  • Carota, F., & Sirigu, A. (2008). Neural Bases of Sequence Processing in Action and Language. Language Learning, 58(1), 179-199. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9922.2008.00470.x.

    Abstract

    Real-time estimation of what we will do next is a crucial prerequisite of purposive behavior. During the planning of goal-oriented actions, for instance, the temporal and causal organization of upcoming subsequent moves needs to be predicted based on our knowledge of events. A forward computation of sequential structure is also essential for planning contiguous discourse segments and syntactic patterns in language. The neural encoding of sequential event knowledge and its domain dependency is a central issue in cognitive neuroscience. Converging evidence shows the involvement of a dedicated neural substrate, including the prefrontal cortex and Broca's area, in the representation and the processing of sequential event structure. After reviewing major representational models of sequential mechanisms in action and language, we discuss relevant neuropsychological and neuroimaging findings on the temporal organization of sequencing and sequence processing in both domains, suggesting that sequential event knowledge may be modularly organized through prefrontal and frontal subregions.
  • Carota, F. (2007). Collaborative use of contrastive markers Contextual and co-textual implications. In A. Fetzer (Ed.), Context and Appropriateness: Micro meets macro (pp. 235-260). Amsterdam: Benjamins.

    Abstract

    The study presented in this paper examines the context-dependence and dialogue functions of the contrastive markers of Italian ma (but), invece (instead), mentre (while) and per (nevertheless) within task-oriented dialogues. Corpus data evidence their sensitivity to a acognitive interpersonal context, conceived as a common ground. Such a cognitive state - shared by co-participants through the coordinative process of grounding - interacts with the global dialogue structure, which is cognitively shaped by ``meta-negotiating{''} and grounding the dialogue topic. Locally, the relation between the current dialogue structural units and the global dialogue topic is said to be specified by information structure, in particular intra-utterance themes. It is argued that contrastive markers re-orient the co-participants' cognitive states towards grounding ungrounded topical aspects to be meta-negotiated. They offer a collaborative context-updating strategy, tracking the status of common ground during dialogue topic management.
  • Carota, F. (2006). Derivational morphology of Italian: Principles for formalization. Literary and Linguistic Computing, 21(SUPPL. 1), 41-53. doi:10.1093/llc/fql007.

    Abstract

    The present paper investigates the major derivational strategies underlying the formation of suffixed words in Italian, with the purpose of tackling the issue of their formalization. After having specified the theoretical cognitive premises that orient the work, the interacting component modules of the suffixation process, i.e. morphonology, morphotactics and affixal semantics, are explored empirically, by drawing ample naturally occurring data on a Corpus of written Italian. A special attention is paid to the semantic mechanisms that are involved into suffixation. Some semantic nuclei are identified for the major suffixed word types of Italian, which are due to word formation rules active at the synchronic level, and a semantic configuration of productive suffixes is suggested. A general framework is then sketched, which combines classical finite-state methods with a feature unification-based word grammar. More specifically, the semantic information specified for the affixal material is internalised into the structures of the Lexical Functional Grammar (LFG). The formal model allows us to integrate the various modules of suffixation. In particular, it treats, on the one hand, the interface between morphonology/morphotactics and semantics and, on the other hand, the interface between suffixation and inflection. Furthermore, since LFG exploits a hierarchically organised lexicon in order to structure the information regarding the affixal material, affixal co-selectional restrictions are advatageously constrained, avoiding potential multiple spurious analysis/generations.

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