Word meaning in the ventral visual path: a perceptual to conceptual gradient of semantic coding

Abstract : The meaning of words referring to concrete items is thought of as a multidimensional representation that includes both perceptual (e.g., average size, prototypical color) and conceptual (e.g., taxonomic class) dimensions. Are these different dimensions coded in different brain regions? In healthy human subjects, we tested the presence of a mapping between the implied real object size (a perceptual dimension) and the taxonomic categories at different levels of specificity (conceptual dimensions) of a series of words, and the patterns of brain activity recorded with functional magnetic resonance imaging in six areas along the ventral occipito–temporal cortical path. Combining multivariate pattern classification and representational similarity analysis, we found that the real object size implied by a word appears to be primarily encoded in early visual regions, while the taxonomic category and sub-categorical cluster in more anterior temporal regions. This anteroposterior gradient of information content indicates that different areas along the ventral stream encode complementary dimensions of the semantic space.
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Valentina Borghesani, Fabian Pedregosa, Marco Buiatti, Alexis Amadon, Evelyn Eger, et al.. Word meaning in the ventral visual path: a perceptual to conceptual gradient of semantic coding. NeuroImage, Elsevier, 2016, ⟨10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.08.068⟩. ⟨hal-01372551⟩

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