Representational Similarity Mapping of Distributional Semantics in Left Inferior Frontal, Middle Temporal, and Motor Cortex
Carota, F., Kriegeskorte, N., Nili, H., & Pulvermüller, F.
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.
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.