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Multiple Regions of a Cortical Network Commonly Encode the Meaning of Words in Multiple Grammatical Positions of Read Sentences. Cereb Cortex 2019 06 01;29(6):2396-2411



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85058538387   12 Citations


Deciphering how sentence meaning is represented in the brain remains a major challenge to science. Semantically related neural activity has recently been shown to arise concurrently in distributed brain regions as successive words in a sentence are read. However, what semantic content is represented by different regions, what is common across them, and how this relates to words in different grammatical positions of sentences is weakly understood. To address these questions, we apply a semantic model of word meaning to interpret brain activation patterns elicited in sentence reading. The model is based on human ratings of 65 sensory/motor/emotional and cognitive features of experience with words (and their referents). Through a process of mapping functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging activation back into model space we test: which brain regions semantically encode content words in different grammatical positions (e.g., subject/verb/object); and what semantic features are encoded by different regions. In left temporal, inferior parietal, and inferior/superior frontal regions we detect the semantic encoding of words in all grammatical positions tested and reveal multiple common components of semantic representation. This suggests that sentence comprehension involves a common core representation of multiple words' meaning being encoded in a network of regions distributed across the brain.

Author List

Anderson AJ, Lalor EC, Lin F, Binder JR, Fernandino L, Humphries CJ, Conant LL, Raizada RDS, Grimm S, Wang X


Jeffrey R. Binder MD Professor in the Neurology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Lisa L. Conant PhD Associate Professor in the Neurology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Leonardo Fernandino PhD Assistant Professor in the Neurology department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Brain Mapping
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Models, Neurological
Speech Perception