An fMRI study of concreteness effects in spoken word recognition

Roxbury, Tracy, McMahon, Katie and Copland, David A. (2014) An fMRI study of concreteness effects in spoken word recognition. Behavioral and Brain Functions, 10 1: 34.1-34.14. doi:10.1186/1744-9081-10-34

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Author Roxbury, Tracy
McMahon, Katie
Copland, David A.
Title An fMRI study of concreteness effects in spoken word recognition
Journal name Behavioral and Brain Functions   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1744-9081
Publication date 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1186/1744-9081-10-34
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 10
Issue 1
Start page 34.1
End page 34.14
Total pages 14
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher BioMed Central
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background: Evidence for the brain mechanisms recruited when processing concrete versus abstract concepts has been largely derived from studies employing visual stimuli. The tasks and baseline contrasts used have also involved varying degrees of lexical processing. This study investigated the neural basis of the concreteness effect during spoken word recognition and employed a lexical decision task with a novel pseudoword condition.

Methods: The participants were seventeen healthy young adults (9 females). The stimuli consisted of (a) concrete, high imageability nouns, (b) abstract, low imageability nouns and (c) opaque legal pseudowords presented in a pseudorandomised, event-related design. Activation for the concrete, abstract and pseudoword conditions was analysed using anatomical regions of interest derived from previous findings of concrete and abstract word processing.

Results: Behaviourally, lexical decision reaction times for the concrete condition were significantly faster than both abstract and pseudoword conditions and the abstract condition was significantly faster than the pseudoword condition (p < 0.05). The region of interest analysis showed significantly greater activity for concrete versus abstract conditions in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate and bilaterally in the angular gyrus. There were no significant differences between abstract and concrete conditions in the left superior temporal gyrus or inferior frontal gyrus.

Conclusions: These findings confirm the involvement of the bilateral angular gyrus, left posterior cingulate and left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in retrieving concrete versus abstract concepts during spoken word recognition. Significant activity was also elicited by concrete words relative to pseudowords in the left fusiform and left anterior middle temporal gyrus. These findings confirm the involvement of a widely distributed network of brain regions that are activated in response to the spoken recognition of concrete but not abstract words. Our findings are consistent with the proposal that distinct brain regions are engaged as convergence zones and enable the binding of supramodal input.
Keyword Language
Auditory lexical decision
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Thu, 20 Nov 2014, 10:42:52 EST by Shona Osborne on behalf of Centre for Advanced Imaging