Experientially-grounded and distributional semantic vectors uncover dissociable representations of semantic categories
Carota, F., Nili, H., Kriegeskorte, N., & Pulvermüller, F.
Experientially-grounded and distributional semantic vectors uncover dissociable representations of semantic categories. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication
Neuronal populations code similar concepts by similar activity patterns across the human brain's semantic networks. However, it is unclear to what extent such meaning-to-symbol mapping reflects distributional statistics, or experiential information grounded in sensorimotor and emotional knowledge. We asked whether integrating distributional and experiential data better distinguished conceptual categories than each method taken separately. We examined the similarity structure of fMRI patterns elicited by visually presented action- and object-related words using representational similarity analysis (RSA). We found that the distributional and experiential/integrative models respectively mapped the high-dimensional semantic space in left inferior frontal, anterior temporal, and in left precentral, posterior inferior/middle temporal cortex. Furthermore, results from model comparisons uncovered category-specific similarity patterns, as both distributional and experiential models matched the similarity patterns for action concepts in left fronto-temporal cortex, whilst the experiential/integrative (but not distributional) models matched the similarity patterns for object concepts in left fusiform and angular gyrus.