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Overlapping connectivity patterns during semantic processing of abstract and concrete words revealed with multivariate Granger Causality analysis.


ABSTRACT: . Abstract, unlike concrete, nouns refer to notions beyond our perception. Even though there is no consensus among linguists as to what exactly constitutes a concrete or abstract word, neuroscientists found clear evidence of a "concreteness" effect. This can, for instance, be seen in patients with language impairments due to brain injury or developmental disorder who are capable of perceiving one category better than another. Even though the results are inconclusive, neuroimaging studies on healthy subjects also provide a spatial and temporal account of differences in the processing of abstract versus concrete words. A description of the neural pathways during abstract word reading, the manner in which the connectivity patterns develop over the different stages of lexical and semantic processing compared to that of concrete word processing are still debated. We conducted a high-density EEG study on 24 healthy young volunteers using an implicit categorization task. From this, we obtained high spatio-temporal resolution data and, by means of source reconstruction, reduced the effect of signal mixing observed on scalp level. A multivariate, time-varying and directional method of analyzing connectivity based on the concept of Granger Causality (Partial Directed Coherence) revealed a dynamic network that transfers information from the right superior occipital lobe along the ventral and dorsal streams towards the anterior temporal and orbitofrontal lobes of both hemispheres. Some regions along these pathways appear to be primarily involved in either receiving or sending information. A clear difference in information transfer of abstract and concrete words was observed during the time window of semantic processing, specifically for information transferred towards the left anterior temporal lobe. Further exploratory analysis confirmed a generally stronger connectivity pattern for processing concrete words. We believe our study could guide future research towards a more refined theory of abstract word processing in the brain.

SUBMITTER: Fahimi Hnazaee M 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7028761 | BioStudies | 2020-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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