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Cross-modal representation of spoken and written word meaning in left pars triangularis

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

The correspondence in meaning extracted from written versus spoken input remains to be fully understood neurobiologically. Here, in a total of 38 subjects, the functional anatomy of cross-modal semantic similarity for concrete words was determined based on a dual criterion: First, a voxelwise univariate analysis had to show significant activation during a semantic task (property verification) performed with written and spoken concrete words compared to the perceptually matched control condition. Second, in an independent dataset, in these clusters, the similarity in fMRI response pattern to two distinct entities, one presented as a written and the other as a spoken word, had to correlate with the similarity in meaning between these entities. The left ventral occipitotemporal transition zone and ventromedial temporal cortex, retrosplenial cortex, pars orbitalis bilaterally, and the left pars triangularis were all activated in the univariate contrast. Only the left pars triangularis showed a cross-modal semantic similarity effect. There was no effect of phonological nor orthographic similarity in this region. The cross-modal semantic similarity effect was confirmed by a secondary analysis in the cytoarchitectonically defined BA45. A semantic similarity effect was also present in the ventral occipital regions but only within the visual modality, and in the anterior superior temporal cortex only within the auditory modality. This study provides direct evidence for the coding of word meaning in BA45 and positions its contribution to semantic processing at the confluence of input-modality specific pathways that code for meaning within the respective input modalities.
Journal: NeuroImage
ISSN: 1053-8119
Volume: 150
Pages: 292 - 307
Publication year:2017