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Journal Article

Task-dependent recruitment of modality-specific and multimodal regions during conceptual processing

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Kuhnke,  Philipp
Lise Meitner Research Group Cognition and Plasticity, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Hartwigsen,  Gesa
Lise Meitner Research Group Cognition and Plasticity, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Kuhnke, P., Kiefer, M., & Hartwigsen, G. (2020). Task-dependent recruitment of modality-specific and multimodal regions during conceptual processing. Cerebral Cortex, 30(7), 3938-3959. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhaa010.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-74E1-A
Abstract
Conceptual knowledge is central to cognitive abilities such as word comprehension. Previous neuroimaging evidence indicates that concepts are at least partly composed of perceptual and motor features that are represented in the same modality-specific brain regions involved in actual perception and action. However, it is unclear to what extent the retrieval of perceptual–motor features and the resulting engagement of modality-specific regions depend on the concurrent task. To address this issue, we measured brain activity in 40 young and healthy participants using functional magnetic resonance imaging, while they performed three different tasks—lexical decision, sound judgment, and action judgment—on words that independently varied in their association with sounds and actions. We found neural activation for sound and action features of concepts selectively when they were task-relevant in brain regions also activated during auditory and motor tasks, respectively, as well as in higher-level, multimodal regions which were recruited during both sound and action feature retrieval. For the first time, we show that not only modality-specific perceptual–motor areas but also multimodal regions are engaged in conceptual processing in a flexible, task-dependent fashion, responding selectively to task-relevant conceptual features.