Sensorimotor experience and verb-category mapping in human sensory, motor and parietal neurons

Ying Yang, Michael Walsh Dickey, Julie Fiez, Brian Murphy, Tom Mitchell, Jennifer Collinger, Elizabeth Tyler-Kabara, Michael Boninger, Wei Wang

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7 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Semantic grounding is the process of relating meaning to symbols (e.g., words). It is the foundation for creating a representational symbolic system such as language. Semantic grounding for verb meaning is hypothesized to be achieved through two mechanisms: sensorimotor mapping, i.e., directly encoding the sensorimotor experiences the verb describes, and verb-category mapping, i.e., encoding the abstract category a verb belongs to. These two mechanisms were investigated by examining neuronal-level spike (i.e. neuronal action potential) activities from the motor, somatosensory and parietal areas in two human participants. Motor and a portion of somatosensory neurons were found to be involved in primarily sensorimotor mapping, while parietal and some somatosensory neurons were found to be involved in both sensorimotor and verb-category mapping. The time course of the spike activities and the selective tuning pattern of these neurons indicate that they belong to a large neural network used for semantic processing. This study is the first step towards understanding how words are processed by neurons.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304–319
Number of pages16
JournalCortex
Volume92
Early online date06 May 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

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    Yang, Y., Dickey, M. W., Fiez, J., Murphy, B., Mitchell, T., Collinger, J., Tyler-Kabara, E., Boninger, M., & Wang, W. (2017). Sensorimotor experience and verb-category mapping in human sensory, motor and parietal neurons. Cortex, 92, 304–319. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2017.04.021