Shared and distinct anatomical correlates of semantic and phonemic fluency revealed by lesion-symptom mapping in patients with ischemic stroke.
ABSTRACT: Semantic and phonemic fluency tasks are frequently used to test executive functioning, speed and attention, and access to the mental lexicon. In semantic fluency tasks, subjects are required to generate words belonging to a category (e.g., animals) within a limited time window, whereas in phonemic fluency tasks subjects have to generate words starting with a given letter. Anatomical correlates of semantic and phonemic fluency are currently assumed to overlap in left frontal structures, reflecting shared executive processes, and to be distinct in left temporal and right frontal structures, reflecting involvement of distinct memory processes and search strategies. Definite evidence for this assumption is lacking. To further establish the anatomical correlates of semantic and phonemic fluency, we applied assumption-free voxel-based and region-of-interest-based lesion-symptom mapping in 93 patients with ischemic stroke. Fluency was assessed by asking patients to name animals (semantic), and words starting with the letter N and A (phonemic). Our findings indicate that anatomical correlates of semantic and phonemic fluency overlap in the left inferior frontal gyrus and insula, reflecting shared underlying cognitive processes. Phonemic fluency additionally draws on the left rolandic operculum, which might reflect a search through phonological memory, and the middle frontal gyrus. Semantic fluency additionally draws on left medial temporal regions, probably reflecting a search through semantic memory, and the right inferior frontal gyrus, which might reflect the application of a visuospatial mental imagery strategy in semantic fluency. These findings establish shared and distinct anatomical correlates of semantic and phonemic fluency.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The processing of verbal fluency tasks relies on the coordinated activity of a number of brain areas, particularly in the frontal and temporal lobes of the left hemisphere. Recent studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the neural networks subserving verbal fluency functions have yielded divergent results especially with respect to a parcellation of the inferior frontal gyrus for phonemic and semantic verbal fluency. We conducted a coordinate-based activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis on brain activation during the processing of phonemic and semantic verbal fluency tasks involving 28 individual studies with 490 healthy volunteers. RESULTS: For phonemic as well as for semantic verbal fluency, the most prominent clusters of brain activation were found in the left inferior/middle frontal gyrus (LIFG/MIFG) and the anterior cingulate gyrus. BA 44 was only involved in the processing of phonemic verbal fluency tasks, BA 45 and 47 in the processing of phonemic and semantic fluency tasks. CONCLUSIONS: Our comparison of brain activation during the execution of either phonemic or semantic verbal fluency tasks revealed evidence for spatially different activation in BA 44, but not other regions of the LIFG/LMFG (BA 9, 45, 47) during phonemic and semantic verbal fluency processing.
Project description:Verbal and figural fluency are related to executive functions (EFs), but the extent to which they benefit from executive resources and their respective cortical representations is not clear. Moreover, different brain areas and cognitive functions are involved in fluency processing. This study investigated effects of modulation of cortical excitability in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (l-DLPFC), left temporal area and right posterior parietal cortex (r-PPC) with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), on verbal and figural fluency. Fifteen healthy adult participants received anodal l-DLPFC (F3), anodal left temporal (T3), anodal r-PPC (P4) and sham tDCS (15?min, 1.5?mA). After five minutes of stimulation, participants underwent the verbal fluency (i.e., semantic and phonemic fluency tasks) and figural fluency tasks. Participants significantly generated more words with phonemic cues during anodal l-DLPFC tDCS and more words with semantic cues during both anodal left temporal and anodal l-DLPFC tDCS. In contrast, they generated more unique figures under anodal r-PPC and anodal l-DLPFC tDCS. Our results implicate that prefrontal regions and EFs are shared anatomical correlates and cognitive processes relevant for both, verbal and figural fluency (supramodal contribution of DLPFC activation), whereas r-PPC and left temporal cortex are more specifically involved in figural and semantic fluency (modality-specific contribution).
Project description:Fluency tasks have been widely used to tap the voluntary generation of responses. The anatomical correlates of fluency tasks and their sensitivity and specificity have been hotly debated. However, investigation of the cognitive processes involved in voluntary generation of responses and whether generation is supported by a common, general process (e.g. fluid intelligence) or specific cognitive processes underpinned by particular frontal regions has rarely been addressed. This study investigates a range of verbal and non-verbal fluency tasks in patients with unselected focal frontal (n=47) and posterior (n=20) lesions. Patients and controls (n=35) matched for education, age and sex were administered fluency tasks including word (phonemic/semantic), design, gesture and ideational fluency as well as background cognitive tests. Lesions were analysed by standard anterior/posterior and left/right frontal subdivisions as well as a finer-grained frontal localization method. Thus, patients with right and left lateral lesions were compared to patients with superior medial lesions. The results show that all eight fluency tasks are sensitive to frontal lobe damage although only the phonemic word and design fluency tasks were specific to the frontal region. Superior medial patients were the only group to be impaired on all eight fluency tasks, relative to controls, consistent with an energization deficit. The most marked fluency deficits for lateral patients were along material specific lines (i.e. left-phonemic and right-design). Phonemic word fluency that requires greater selection was most severely impaired following left inferior frontal damage. Overall, our results support the notion that frontal functions comprise a set of specialized cognitive processes, supported by distinct frontal regions.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The present study aimed to provide a basis for future research examining the neural mechanisms that underlie the beneficial effect of an intervention program, Photo-Integrated Conversation Moderated by Robots (PICMOR), on verbal fluency in older adults as identified in our previous randomized controlled trial. In this preliminary report, we conducted an additional experiment using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) after the intervention period. Specifically, we investigated the resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) characteristics of the intervention group (INT) compared to the control group (CONT). METHODS:rsfMRI data were acquired from 31 and 30 participants in INT and CONT, respectively, after the intervention. In the analyses, two of the most important regions in verbal fluency, the left inferior and middle frontal gyri, were selected as seed regions, and the rsFCs were compared between groups. We also conducted regression analyses for rsFCs using the difference in individual phonemic verbal fluency task (PVFT) scores between the pre- and post-intervention periods (i.e., post- minus pre-intervention) as an independent variable. RESULTS:We found higher rsFC in INT than in CONT between the left inferior frontal gyrus as a seed region and the temporal pole and middle frontal gyrus. The rsFC strength between the left inferior frontal gyrus and temporal pole positively correlated with an increased PVFT score between the pre- and post-intervention periods. In contrast, we found lower rsFC in INT than in CONT between the left middle frontal gyrus as a seed region and the posterior cingulate cortex, precuneus, and postcentral gyrus. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings suggest that the beneficial intervention effect of PICMOR on verbal fluency is characterized by enhanced rsFC of the left inferior frontal gyrus with semantic and executive control-related regions and suppressed rsFC between the left middle frontal gyrus and posterior cortical midline structures. No definitive conclusions can be made because of a lack of rsfMRI data before the intervention. However, this pilot study provides the candidates for rsFCs, reflecting the beneficial effects of PICMOR on the brain network involved in verbal fluency. TRIAL REGISTRATION:The trial was retrospectively registered at the UMIN Clinical Trials Registry ( UMIN000036667 ) (May 7th, 2019).
Project description:Previous lesion studies suggest that semantic and phonological fluency are differentially subserved by distinct brain regions in the left temporal and the left frontal cortex, respectively. However, as of yet, this often implied double dissociation has not been explicitly investigated due to mainly two reasons: (i) the lack of sufficiently large samples of brain-lesioned patients that underwent assessment of the two fluency variants and (ii) the lack of tools to assess interactions in factorial analyses of non-normally distributed behavioral data. In addition, previous studies did not control for task resource artifacts potentially introduced by the generally higher task difficulty of phonological compared to semantic fluency. We addressed these issues by task-difficulty adjusted assessment of semantic and phonological fluency in 85 chronic patients with ischemic stroke of the left middle cerebral artery. For classical region-based lesion-behavior mapping patients were grouped with respect to their primary lesion location. Building on the extension of the non-parametric Brunner-Munzel rank-order test to multi-factorial designs, ANOVA-type analyses revealed a significant two-way interaction for cue type (semantic vs. phonological) by lesion location (left temporal vs. left frontal vs. other as stroke control group). Subsequent contrast analyses further confirmed the proposed double dissociation by demonstrating that (i) compared to stroke controls, left temporal lesions led to significant impairments in semantic but not in phonological fluency, whereas left frontal lesions led to significant impairments in phonological but not in semantic fluency, and that (ii) patients with frontal lesions showed significantly poorer performance in phonological than in semantic fluency, whereas patients with temporal lesions showed significantly poorer performance in semantic than in phonological fluency. The anatomical specificity of these findings was further assessed in voxel-based lesion-behavior mapping analyses using the multi-factorial extension of the Brunner-Munzel test. Voxel-wise ANOVA-type analyses identified circumscribed parts of left inferior frontal gyrus and left superior and middle temporal gyrus that significantly double-dissociated with respect to their differential contribution to phonological and semantic fluency, respectively. Furthermore, a main effect of lesion with significant impairments in both fluency types was found in left inferior frontal regions adjacent to but not overlapping with those showing the differential effect for phonological fluency. The present study hence not only provides first explicit evidence for the anatomical double dissociation in verbal fluency at the group level but also clearly underlines that its formulation constitutes an oversimplification as parts of left frontal cortex appear to contribute to both semantic and phonological fluency.
Project description:Letter-cued word fluency is conceptualized as a phonemically guided word retrieval process. Accordingly, word clusters typically are defined solely by their phonemic similarity. We investigated semantic clustering in two letter-cued (P and S) word fluency task performances by 315 healthy adults, each for 1 min. Singular value decomposition (SVD) and generalized topological overlap measure (GTOM) were applied to verbal outputs to conservatively extract clusters of high-frequency words. The results generally confirmed phonemic clustering. However, we also found considerable semantic/associative clusters of words (e.g., pen, pencil, and paper), and some words showed both phonemic and semantic associations within a single cluster (e.g., pair, pear, peach). We conclude that letter-cued fluency is not necessarily a purely phonemic word retrieval process. Strong automatic semantic activation mechanisms play an important role in letter-cued lexical retrieval. Theoretical conceptualizations of the word retrieval process with phonemic cues may also need to be reexamined in light of these analyses.
Project description:Bilinguals often show a disadvantage in lexical access on verbal fluency tasks wherein the criteria require the production of words from semantic categories. However, the pattern is more heterogeneous for letter (phonemic) fluency wherein the task is to produce words beginning with a given letter. Here, bilinguals often outperform monolinguals. One explanation for this is that phonemic fluency, as compared with semantic fluency, is more greatly underpinned by executive processes and that bilinguals exhibit better performance on phonemic fluency due to better executive functions. In this study, we re-analyzed phonemic fluency data from the Betula study, scoring outputs according to two measures that purportedly reflect executive processes: clustering and switching. Consistent with the notion that bilinguals have superior executive processes and that these can be used to offset a bilingual disadvantage in verbal fluency, bilinguals (35-65 years at baseline) demonstrated greater switching and clustering throughout the 15-year study period.
Project description:Verbal fluency is the ability to retrieve lexical knowledge quickly and efficiently and develops during childhood and adolescence. Few studies have investigated associations between verbal fluency performance and brain structural variation in children. Here we examined associations of verbal fluency performance with structural measures of frontal and temporal language-related brain regions and their connections in 73 typically-developing children aged 7-13 years. Tract-based spatial statistics was used to extract fractional anisotropy (FA) from the superior longitudinal fasciculus/arcuate fasciculus (SLF/AF), and the white matter underlying frontal and temporal language-related regions. FreeSurfer was used to extract cortical thickness and surface area. Better semantic and phonemic fluency performance was associated with higher right SLF/AF FA, and phonemic fluency was also modestly associated with lower left SLF/AF FA. Explorative voxelwise analyses for semantic fluency suggested associations with FA in other fiber tracts, including corpus callosum and right inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus. Overall, our results suggest that verbal fluency performance in children may rely on right hemisphere structures, possibly involving both language and executive function networks, and less on solely left hemisphere structures as often is observed in adults. Longitudinal studies are needed to clarify whether these associations are mediated by maturational processes, stable characteristics and/or experience.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>For word production, we may consciously pursue semantic or phonological search strategies, but it is uncertain whether we can retrieve the different aspects of lexical information independently from each other. We therefore studied the spread of semantic information into words produced under exclusively phonemic task demands.<h4>Methods</h4>42 subjects participated in a letter verbal fluency task, demanding the production of as many s-words as possible in two minutes. Based on curve fittings for the time courses of word production, output spurts (temporal clusters) considered to reflect rapid lexical retrieval based on automatic activation spread, were identified. Semantic and phonemic word relatedness within versus between these clusters was assessed by respective scores (0 meaning no relation, 4 maximum relation).<h4>Results</h4>Subjects produced 27.5 (±9.4) words belonging to 6.7 (±2.4) clusters. Both phonemically and semantically words were more related within clusters than between clusters (phon: 0.33±0.22 vs. 0.19±0.17, p<.01; sem: 0.65±0.29 vs. 0.37±0.29, p<.01). Whereas the extent of phonemic relatedness correlated with high task performance, the contrary was the case for the extent of semantic relatedness.<h4>Conclusion</h4>The results indicate that semantic information spread occurs, even if the consciously pursued word search strategy is purely phonological. This, together with the negative correlation between semantic relatedness and verbal output suits the idea of a semantic default mode of lexical search, acting against rapid task performance in the given scenario of phonemic verbal fluency. The simultaneity of enhanced semantic and phonemic word relatedness within the same temporal cluster boundaries suggests an interaction between content and sound-related information whenever a new semantic field has been opened.
Project description:The decrease in verbal fluency in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) undergoing subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation (STN-DBS) is usually assumed to reflect a frontal lobe-related cognitive dysfunction, although evidence for this is lacking.To explore its underlying mechanisms, we combined neuropsychological, psychiatric and motor assessments with an examination of brain metabolism using F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography, in 26 patients with PD, 3 months before and after surgery. We divided these patients into two groups, depending on whether or not they exhibited a postoperative deterioration in either phonemic (10 patients) or semantic (8 patients) fluency. We then compared the STN-DBS groups with and without verbal deterioration on changes in clinical measures and brain metabolism.We did not find any neuropsychological change supporting the presence of an executive dysfunction in patients with a deficit in either phonemic or semantic fluency. Similarly, a comparison of patients with or without impaired fluency on brain metabolism failed to highlight any frontal areas involved in cognitive functions. However, greater changes in cognitive slowdown and apathy were observed in patients with a postoperative decrease in verbal fluency.These results suggest that frontal lobe-related cognitive dysfunction could play only a minor role in the postoperative impairment of phonemic or semantic fluency, and that cognitive slowdown and apathy could have a more decisive influence. Furthermore, the phonemic and semantic impairments appeared to result from the disturbance of distinct mechanisms.