Spatiotemporal Convergence of Semantic Processing in Reading and Speech Perception

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School of Science | A1 Alkuperäisartikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä
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Journal of Neuroscience, Volume 29, Issue 29
Retrieval of word meaning from the semantic system and its integration with context are often assumed to be shared by spoken and written words. How is modality-independent semantic processing manifested in the brain, spatially and temporally? Time-sensitive neuroimaging allows tracking of neural activation sequences. Use of semantically related versus unrelated word pairs or sentences ending with a semantically highly or less plausible word, in separate studies of the auditory and visual modality, has associated lexical-semantic analysis with sustained activation at ∼200–800 ms. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) studies have further identified the superior temporal cortex as a main locus of the semantic effect. Nevertheless, a direct comparison of the spatiotemporal neural correlates of visual and auditory word comprehension in the same brain is lacking. We used MEG to compare lexical-semantic analysis in the visual and auditory domain in the same individuals, and contrasted it with phonological analysis that, according to models of language perception, should occur at a different time with respect to semantic analysis in reading and speech perception. The stimuli were lists of four words that were either semantically or phonologically related, or with the final word unrelated to the preceding context. Superior temporal activation reflecting semantic processing occurred similarly in the two modalities, left-lateralized at 300–450 ms and thereafter bilaterally, generated in close-by areas. Effect of phonology preceded the semantic effect in speech perception but not in reading. The present data indicate involvement of the middle superior temporal cortex in semantic processing from ∼300 ms onwards, regardless of input modality.
semantic systems, words, brain
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Vartiainen, J. & Parviainen, T. & Salmelin, Riitta. 2009. Spatiotemporal Convergence of Semantic Processing in Reading and Speech Perception. Journal of Neuroscience. Volume 29, Issue 29. P. 9271-9280. ISSN 0270-6474 (printed). DOI: 10.1523/jneurosci.5860-08.2009.