Conceptual Representations of Perceptual Knowledge

Cognitive Neuropsychology 29 (3):237-248 (2012)
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Abstract

Many neuroimaging studies of semantic memory have argued that knowledge of an object's perceptual properties are represented in a modality-specific manner. These studies often base their argument on finding activation in the left-hemisphere fusiform gyrus-a region assumed to be involved in perceptual processing-when the participant is verifying verbal statements about objects and properties. In this paper, we report an extension of one of these influential papers-Kan, Barsalou, Solomon, Minor, and Thompson-Schill (2003 )-and present evidence for an amodal component in the representation and processing of perceptual knowledge. Participants were required to verify object-property statements (e.g., "cat-whiskers?"; "bear-wings?") while they were being scanned by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We replicated Kan et al.'s activation in the left fusiform gyrus, but also found activation in regions of left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and middle-temporal gyrus, areas known to reflect amodal processes or representations. Further, only activations in the left IFG, an amodal area, were correlated with measures of behavioural performance.

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Umrao Sethi
Brandeis University

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