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Neural Basis of Semantic Memory
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  • 31 b/w illus. 25 colour illus. 3 tables
  • Page extent: 394 pages
  • Size: 247 x 174 mm
  • Weight: 0.947 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 612.8/2
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: QP406 .N478 2007
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Memory
    • Memory disorders
    • Language disorders
    • Neuropsychology
    • Semantics

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521848701)

Neural Basis of Semantic Memory
Cambridge University Press
978-0521-84870-1 - Neural Basis of Semantic Memory - by John Hart Jr. and Michael A. Kraut
Front Matter

Neural Basis of Semantic Memory

The advent of modern investigative techniques to explore brain function has led to major advances in understanding the neural organization and mechanisms associated with semantic memory. This book presents current theories by leading experts in the field on how the human nervous system stores and recalls memory of objects, actions, words and events. Chapters range from models of a specific domain or memory system (e.g. lexical–semantic, sensorimotor, emotion) to multiple modality accounts; from encompassing memory representations, to processing modules, to network structures, focusing on studies of both normal individuals and those with brain disease.

Recent advances in neuro-exploratory techniques allow for investigation of semantic memory mechanisms noninvasively in both normal healthy individuals and patients with diffuse or focal brain damage. This has resulted in a significant increase in findings relevant to the localization and mechanistic function of brain regions engaged in semantic memory, leading to the neural models included here.

John Hart Jr. is Professor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and Medical Science Director at The Center for BrainHealth, The University of Texas at Dallas.

Michael A. Kraut is Associate Professor of Radiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Neural Basis of Semantic Memory

Edited by

John Hart Jr.
Michael A. Kraut

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:

© Cambridge University Press 2007

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2007

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

A catalog record for this publication is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication data

Neural basis of sematic memory/[edited by] John Hart Jr. and Michael Kraut.
   p. ; cm.
 Includes bibliographical references.
 ISBN-13: 978-0-521-84870-1 (hardback)
 ISBN-10: 0-521-84870-9 (hardback)

1. Memory. 2. Memory disorders. 3. Language disorders. 4. Neurosychology. 5. Semantics. I. Hart, John, 1957– II. Kraut, Michael.

[DNLM: 1. Memory -- physiology. 2. Brain -- physiology. 3. Semantics. WL 102 N49087 2007]  I. Title.
 QP406.N478 2007

ISBN-13 978-0521-84870-1 hardback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

Every effort has been made in preparing this publication to provide accurate and up-to-date information which is in accord with accepted standards and practice at the time of publication. Although case histories are drawn from actual cases, every effort has been made to disguise the identities of the individuals involved. Nevertheless, the authors, editors and publishers can make no warranties that the information contained herein is totally free from error, not least because clinical standards are constantly changing through research and regulation. The authors, editors and publishers therefore disclaim all liability for direct or consequential damages resulting from the use of material contained in this publication. Readers are strongly advised to pay careful attention to information provided by the manufacturer of any drugs or equipment that they plan to use.


List of contributors page vii
Preface xi
Part I  Semantic Memory: Building Models from Lesions

1 Semantic refractory access disorders 3
Elizabeth K. Warrington and Sebastian J. Crutch
2 The anatomical locus of lesion in category-specific semantic disorders and the format of the underlying conceptual representations 28
Guido Gainotti
Part II  Insights from Electrophysiology

3 Functional modularity of semantic memory revealed by event-related brain potentials 65
John Kounios
4 Bilingual semantic memory revisited – ERP and fMRI evidence 105
Sonja A. Kotz and Kerrie E. Elston-Güttler
Part III  Applications of Models to Understanding Cognitive Dysfunction

5 Schizophrenia and semantic memory133
Michal Assaf, Paul Rivkin, Michael A. Kraut, Vince Calhoun, John Hart Jr., and Godfrey Pearlson
Part IV  Representations of Nouns and Verbs vs. Objects and Actions

6 Effects of word imageability on semantic access: neuroimaging studies 149
Jeffrey R. Binder
7 The neural systems processing tool and action semantics 182
Uta Noppeney
8 The semantic representation of nouns and verbs 205
Kevin Shapiro, Argye E. Hillis, and Alfonso Caramazza
Part V  Critical Role of Subcortical Nuclei in Semantic Functions

9 Role of the basal ganglia in language and semantics: supporting cast 219
Bruce Crosson, Michelle Bejamin, and Ilana Levy
Part VI  Conceptual Models of Semantics

10 Process and content in semantic memory 247
Phyllis Koenig and Murray Grossman
11 The conceptual structure account: A cognitive model of semantic memory and its neural instantiation 265
Kirsten I. Taylor, Helen E. Moss, and Lorraine K. Tyler
12 Neural foundations for conceptual representations: Evidence from functional brain imaging 302
Alex Martin
13 Neural hybrid model of semantic object memory (version 1.1) 331
John Hart, Jr. and Michael A. Kraut
Index 361


Michal Assaf
Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center
Institute of Living
Hartford CT 06106, USA

Michelle Benjamin
Brain Rehabilitation Research Center of Excellence
Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center
Gainesville FL, USA

Jeffrey Binder
Department of Neurology
Medical College of Wisconsin
9200 W Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee WI 53226, USA

Vince Calhoun
Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center
Institute of Living
Hartford CT 06106, USA

Alfonso Caramazza
Department of Psychology
Harvard University
33 Kirkand Street
Cambridge MA 02138, USA

Bruce Crosson
Brain Rehabilitation Research Center of Excellence
Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center
Gainesville FL, USA

Sebastian Crutch
Division of Neuroscience and Mental Health
Imperial College London, UK

Guido Gainotti
Servizio de Neuropsicologia
Universita Cattolica/Policlinico Gemelli
Largo A. Gemelli 8
00168 Roma, Italy

Murray Grossman
Department of Neurology
University of Pennsylvania Medical Center
Philadelphia, PA., USA

Kerrie Elston-Güttler
Max-Planck-Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences
Stephanstraße 1A
04103 Leipzig, Germany

John Hart, Jr.
The Center for BrainHealth
University of Texas at Dallas
2200 Mockingbird Lane
Dallas TX 75235, USA

Argye Hillis
Department of Cognitive Science
Johns Hopkins University, Phipps
600 N Wolfe Street
Baltimore MD 21287, USA

Phyllis Koenig
Department of Neurology
University of Pennsylvania Medical Center
Philadelphia, PA., USA

Sonja Kotz
Max-Planck-Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences
Stephanstraße 1A
04103 Leipzig, Germany

John Kounios
Department of Psychology
Drexel University
Mail Stop 626, 245 N 15th Street
Philadelphia PA 19102-1192, USA

Michael A. Kraut
Department of Radiology
Johns Hopkins Hospital, Phipps 112
600 N Wolfe Street
Baltimore MD 21205, USA

Ilana Levy
Department of Clinical and Health Psychology
University of Florida
Gainesville FL, USA

Alex Martin
National Institute of Mental Health
Building 10, Room 4C-104
10 Center Drive MSC 1366
Bethesda MD 20892, USA

Helen Moss
Centre for Speech and Language
Department of Experimental Psychology
University of Cambridge, UK

Uta Noppeney
Max-Planck-Institute for Biological Cybernetics
Spemannstraße 38
72076 Tübingen, Germany

Godfrey Pearlson
Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center
Institute of Living
Hartford CT 06106, USA

Paul Rivkin
Department of Psychiatry
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore MD 21205, USA

Kevin Shapiro
Department of Psychology
Harvard University
33 Kirkand Street
Cambridge MA 02138, USA

Kirsten Taylor
Memory Clinic – Neuropsychology Center
University Hospital Basel
Schanzenstraße 55
4031 Basel, Switzerland

Lorraine Tyler
Centre for Speech and Language
Department of Experimental Psychology
University of Cambridge, UK

Elizabeth Warrington
Dementia Research Centre
Department of Neurodegeneration
Institute of Neurology
University College London, UK


As investigative techniques have advanced, there has also been a significant increase in information regarding the storage and access of semantic memory in the human brain. The initial investigations in this area were limited to lesion studies focusing on delineating the organization of the lexical–semantic system for categories of objects and entities. With the advent of modern neuroimaging and brain activation studies, investigations of semantic processing in normal, healthy individuals have resulted in the shaping of the functional–anatomic architecture of semantic memory for entities (e.g. object, animals, and actions) in the human brain. These advances have led to the maturation of the basic knowledge base to the point that a work dedicated to the neural organization of semantic memory was indicated.

Just as in any emerging field, there has been less agreement in some domains than in others, as is evidenced in this book by several alternative accounts for the same general neural instantiation for a specific aspect of semantic memory. It is our belief that we will continue to balance multiple accounts of neural mechanisms and localizations associated with semantic memory, even with refinement in experimental tools. The reasons for this may relate to difficulties inherent in establishing functional–anatomic consistencies in general for semantic memory, aside from broad regions associated with common semantic functions. These reasons include, but are not limited to, individual variations of the anatomic substrates that encode semantic memories, different and ever-changing life experiences (affecting salience for example), the likely existence of multiple neural mechanisms to perform certain semantic functions, variability in the extent of semantic memory recall engaged depending on the task to be performed, and likely a select set of semantic memory instantiations that are common to all humans.

The focus of this book is on current theories of components of semantic memory that also encompass the neural elements associated with these components. Other than a concentration on the memory of single entities (objects, animal, actions, etc.), the chapters range from being specific to a domain and/or memory system (e.g. lexical–semantic, sensorimotor, multiple modalities, etc.) or amodal; cover memory representations, processing, both, and/or parallel network structures; general storage principles of knowledge; and/or focused on studies of normal, healthy individuals as well as those with brain disease. The neural specification ranges from anatomic localizations, physiological accounts, mechanistic explanations, and in some instances extend to providing insights into pathophysiological disruptions of semantic memory.

The following chapters elucidate the leading theories of neural organization of semantic memory, with each extending from the unique approaches of the investigators. Investigators have focused on (i) performing extensive studies on patients with lesions and utilizing the inferences from their performance to inform models of neural function, (ii) insights from electrophysiological measurements of semantic operations, (iii) applying theoretical models to understanding the formal thought disorder in schizophrenia, (iv) the long-running debate in semantic memory over the representations of nouns and verbs and their semantic memory conceptual counterparts of objects and actions, (v) uncovering the essential role of subcortical nuclei in semantic memory, which had been obscure before the advent of current neuroinvestigative techniques, and (vi) overarching models of semantic memory stemming from a variety of investigative perspectives. As those of us investigating semantic memory have gleaned so much from these approaches, we are confident the readers of this book will, too.

John Hart, Jr.
Michael A. Kraut

© Cambridge University Press
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