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The present research explored the cortical correlates of emotional memories in response to words and pictures. Subjects' performance (Accuracy Index, AI; response times, RTs; RTs/AI) was considered when a repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) was applied on the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (LDLPFC). Specifically, the role of LDLPFC was tested by performing a memory task, in which old (previously encoded targets) and new (previously not encoded distractors) emotional pictures/words had to be recognized. Valence (positive vs. negative) and arousing power (high vs. low) of stimuli were also modulated. Moreover, subjective evaluation of emotional stimuli in terms of valence/arousal was explored. We found significant performance improving (higher AI, reduced RTs, improved general performance) in response to rTMS. This \"better recognition effect\" was only related to specific emotional features, that is positive high arousal pictures or words. Moreover no significant differences were found between stimulus categories. A direct relationship was also observed between subjective evaluation of emotional cues and memory performance when rTMS was applied to LDLPFC. Supported by valence and approach model of emotions, we supposed that a left lateralized prefrontal system may induce a better recognition of positive high arousal words, and that evaluation of emotional cue is related to prefrontal activation, affecting the recognition memories of emotions. Copyright 2014 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Recent psycholinguistic and neuroscientific research has emphasized the crucial role of emotions for abstract words, which would be grounded by affective experience, instead of a sensorimotor one. The hypothesis of affective embodiment has been proposed as an alternative to the idea that abstract words are linguistically coded and that linguistic processing plays a key role in their acquisition and processing. In this paper, we use distributional semantic models to explore the complex interplay between linguistic and affective information in the representation of abstract words. Distributional analyses on Italian norming data show that abstract words have more affective content and tend to co-occur with contexts with higher emotive values, according to affective statistical indices estimated in terms of distributional similarity with a restricted number of seed words strongly associated with a set of basic emotions. Therefore, the strong affective content of abstract words might just be an indirect byproduct of co-occurrence statistics. This is consistent with a version of representational pluralism in which concepts that are fully embodied either at the sensorimotor or at the affective level live side-by-side with concepts only indirectly embodied via their linguistic associations with other embodied words. Copyright 2018 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
It is generally assumed that abstract concepts are linguistically coded, in line with imaging evidence of greater engagement of the left perisylvian language network for abstract than concrete words (Binder JR, Desai RH, Graves WW, Conant LL. 2009. Where is the semantic system A critical review and meta-analysis of 120 functional neuroimaging studies. Cerebral Cortex. 19:2767-2796; Wang J, Conder JA, Blitzer DN, Shinkareva SV. 2010. Neural representation of abstract and concrete concepts: A meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies. Hum Brain Map. 31:1459-1468). Recent behavioral work, which used tighter matching of items than previous studies, however, suggests that abstract concepts also entail affective processing to a greater extent than concrete concepts (Kousta S-T, Vigliocco G, Vinson DP, Andrews M, Del Campo E. The representation of abstract words: Why emotion matters. J Exp Psychol Gen. 140:14-34). Here we report a functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment that shows greater engagement of the rostral anterior cingulate cortex, an area associated with emotion processing (e.g., Etkin A, Egner T, Peraza DM, Kandel ER, Hirsch J. 2006. Resolving emotional conflict: A role for the rostral anterior cingulate cortex in modulating activity in the amygdala. Neuron. 52:871), in abstract processing. For abstract words, activation in this area was modulated by the hedonic valence (degree of positive or negative affective association) of our items. A correlation analysis of more than 1,400 English words further showed that abstract words, in general, receive higher ratings for affective associations (both valence and arousal) than concrete words, supporting the view that engagement of emotional processing is generally required for processing abstract words. We argue that these results support embodiment views of semantic representation, according to which, whereas concrete concepts are grounded in our sensory-motor experience, affective experience is crucial in the
Previous event-related potential studies have indicated that both a widespread N400 and an anterior N700 index differential processing of concrete and abstract words, but the nature of these components in relation to concreteness and imagery has been unclear. Here, we separated the effects of word concreteness and task demands on the N400 and N700 in a single word processing paradigm with a within-subjects, between-tasks design and carefully controlled word stimuli. The N400 was larger to concrete words than to abstract words, and larger in the visualization task condition than in the surface task condition, with no interaction. A marked anterior N700 was elicited only by concrete words in the visualization task condition, suggesting that this component indexes imagery. These findings are consistent with a revised or extended dual coding theory according to which concrete words benefit from greater activation in both verbal and imagistic systems. Copyright 2013 Society for Psychophysiological Research.
An influential account of reading holds that words with exceptional spelling-to-sound correspondences (e.g., PINT) are read via activation of their lexical-semantic representations, supported by the anterior temporal lobe (ATL). This account has been inconclusive because it is based on neuropsychological evidence, in which lesion-deficit relationships are difficult to localize precisely, and functional neuroimaging data, which is spatially precise but cannot demonstrate whether the ATL activity is necessary for exception word reading. To address these issues, we used a technique with good spatial specificity-repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)-to demonstrate a necessary role of ATL in exception word reading. Following rTMS to left ventral ATL, healthy Japanese adults made more regularization errors in reading Japanese exception words. We successfully simulated these results in a computational model in which exception word reading was underpinned by semantic activations. The ATL is critically and selectively involved in reading exception words.
Concrete words that are readily imagined are better remembered than abstract words. Theoretical explanations for this effect either claim a dual coding of concrete words in the form of both a verbal and a sensory code (dual-coding theory), or a more accessible semantic network for concrete words than for abstract words (context-availability theory). However, the neural mechanisms of improved memory for concrete versus abstract words are poorly understood. Here, we investigated the processing of concrete and abstract words during encoding and retrieval in a recognition memory task using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). As predicted, memory performance was significantly better for concrete words than for abstract words. Abstract words elicited stronger activations of the left inferior frontal cortex both during encoding and recognition than did concrete words. Stronger activation of this area was also associated with successful encoding for both abstract and concrete words. Concrete words elicited stronger activations bilaterally in the posterior inferior parietal lobe during recognition. The left parietal activation was associated with correct identification of old stimuli. The anterior precuneus, left cerebellar hemisphere and the posterior and anterior cingulate cortex showed activations both for successful recognition of concrete words and for online processing of concrete words during encoding. Additionally, we observed a correlation across subjects between brain activity in the left anterior fusiform gyrus and hippocampus during recognition of learned words and the strength of the concreteness effect. These findings support the idea of specific brain processes for concrete words, which are reactivated during successful recognition.
A prevailing neurobiological theory of semantic memory proposes that part of our knowledge about concrete, highly imageable concepts is stored in the form of sensory-motor representations. While this theory predicts differential activation of the semantic system by concrete and abstract words, previous functional imaging studies employing this contrast have provided relatively little supporting evidence. We acquired event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data while participants performed a semantic similarity judgment task on a large number of concrete and abstract noun triads. Task difficulty was manipulated by varying the degree to which the words in the triad were similar in meaning. Concrete nouns, relative to abstract nouns, produced greater activation in a bilateral network of multimodal and heteromodal association areas, including ventral and medial temporal, posterior-inferior parietal, dorsal prefrontal, and posterior cingulate cortex. In contrast, abstract nouns produced greater activation almost exclusively in the left hemisphere in superior temporal and inferior frontal cortex. Increasing task difficulty modulated activation mainly in attention, working memory, and response monitoring systems, with almost no effect on areas that were modulated by imageability. These data provide critical support for the hypothesis that concrete, imageable concepts activate perceptually based representations not available to abstract concepts. In contrast, processing abstract concepts makes greater demands on left perisylvian phonological and lexical retrieval systems. The findings are compatible with dual coding theory and less consistent with single-code models of conceptual representation. The lack of overlap between imageability and task difficulty effects suggests that once the neural representation of a concept is activated, further maintenance and manipulation of that information in working memory does not further increase neural activation in 153554b96e