Papeo, L., Lingnau, A., Agosta, S., Pascual-Leone, A., Battelli, L., & Caramazza, A. (2014). The Origin of Word-related Motor Activity. Cerebral Cortex.Abstract

Conceptual processing of verbs consistently recruits the left pos- terior middle temporal gyrus (lpMTG). The left precentral motor cortex also responds to verbs, with higher activity for action than nonaction verbs. The early timing of this effect has suggested that motor features of wordsmeaning are accessed directly, bypassing access to conceptual representations in lpMTG. An alternative hypothesis is that the retrieval of conceptual representations in lpMTG is necessary to drive more specific, motor-related represen- tations in the precentral gyrus. To test these hypotheses, we first showed that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) applied to the verb-preferring lpMTG site selectively impoverished the semantic processing of verbs. In a second experiment, rTMS per- turbation of lpMTG, relative to no stimulation (no-rTMS), eliminated the actionnonaction verb distinction in motor activity, as indexed by motor-evoked potentials induced in peripheral muscles with single- pulse TMS over the left primary motor cortex. rTMS pertubation of an occipital control site, relative to no-rTMS, did not affect the actionnonaction verb distinction in motor activity, but the verb con- trast did not differ reliably from the lpMTG effect. The results show that lpMTG carries core semantic information necessary to drive the activation of specific (motor) features in the precentral gyrus. 

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Fabbri, S., Strnad, L., Caramazza, A., & Lingnau, A. (2014). Overlapping representations for grip type and reach direction. NeuroImage , 94, 138-146.Abstract

To grasp an object, we need to move the arm toward it and assume the appropriate hand configuration. While previous studies suggested dorsomedial and dorsolateral pathways in the brain specialized respectively for the transport and grip components, more recent studies cast doubt on such a clear-cut distinction. It is unclear, however, to which degree neuronal populations selective for the two components overlap, and if so, to which degree they interact. Here, we used multivoxel pattern analysis (MVPA) of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data to investigate the representation of three center-out movements (touch, pincer grip, whole-hand grip) performed in five reach directions. We found selectivity exclusively for reach direction in posterior and rostral superior parietal lobes (SPLp, SPLr), supplementary motor area (SMA), and the superior portion of dorsal premotor cortex (PMDs). Instead, we found selectivity for both grip type and reach direction in the inferior portion of dorsal premotor cortex (PMDi), ventral premotor cortex (PMv), anterior intraparietal sulcus (aIPS), primary motor (M1), somatosensory (S1) cortices and the anterior superior parietal lobe (SPLa). Within these regions, PMv, M1, aIPS and SPLa showed weak interactions between the transport and grip components. Our results suggest that human PMDi and S1 contain both grip- and reach-direction selective neuronal populations that retain their functional independence, whereas this information might be combined at the level of PMv, M1, aIPS, and SPLa.

Hernandez, M., Fairhall, S. L., Lenci, A., Baroni, M., & Caramazza, A. (2014). Predication Drives Verb Cortical Signatures. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience , 26 (8), 1829-1839.Abstract

Verbs and nouns are fundamental units of language, but their neural instantiation remains poorly understood. Neuro- psychological research has shown that nouns and verbs can be damaged independently of each other, and neuroimaging re- search has found that several brain regions respond differen- tially to the two word classes. However, the semanticlexical properties of verbs and nouns that drive these effects remain unknown. Here we show that the most likely candidate is pre- dication: a core lexical feature involved in binding constituent arguments (boy, candies) into a unified syntacticsemantic structure expressing a proposition (the boy likes the candies). We used functional neuroimaging to test whether the intrinsic predication-buildingfunction of verbs is what drives the verbnoun distinction in the brain. We first identified verb- preferring regions with a localizer experiment including verbs and nouns. Then, we examined whether these regions are sensitive to transitivityan index measuring its tendency to select for a direct object. Transitivity is a verb-specific prop- erty lying at the core of its predication function. Neural activ- ity in the left posterior middle temporal and inferior frontal gyri correlates with transitivity, indicating sensitivity to predi- cation. This represents the first evidence that grammatical class preference in the brain is driven by a wordʼs function to build predication structures.

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Janssen, N., Pajtas, P. E., & Caramazza, A. (2014). Task influences on the production and comprehension of compound words. Memory & Cognition , 42 (5), 780-793.
Papeo, L., & Caramazza, A. (2014). When “ultrarapid” word-related motor activity is not faster than “early”. Frontiers of Human Neuroscience , 8 842. Full Text
Peelen, M. V., He, C., Han, Z., Caramazza, A., & Bi, Y. (2014). Nonvisual and visual object shape representations in occipitotemporal cortex: evidence from congenitally blind and sighted adults. Journal of Neuroscience , 34 (1), 163-170.Abstract

Knowledge of object shape is primarily acquired through the visual modality but can also be acquired through other sensory modalities. In the present study, we investigated the representation of object shape in humans without visual experience. Congenitally blind and sighted participants rated the shape similarity of pairs of 33 familiar objects, referred to by their names. The resulting shape similarity matrices were highly similar for the two groups, indicating that knowledge of the objects’ shapes was largely independent of visual experience. Using fMRI, we tested for brain regions that represented object shape knowledge in blind and sighted participants. Multivoxel activity patterns were established for each of the 33 aurally presented object names. Sighted participants additionally viewed pictures of these objects. Using representational similarity analysis, neural similarity matrices were related to the behavioral shape similarity matrices. Results showed that activity patterns in occipitotemporal cortex (OTC) regions, including inferior temporal (IT) cortex and functionally defined object-selective cortex (OSC), reflected the behavioral shape similarity ratings in both blind and sighted groups, also when controlling for the objects’ tactile and semantic similarity. Furthermore, neural similarity matrices of IT and OSC showed similar- ities across blind and sighted groups (within the auditory modality) and across modality (within the sighted group), but not across both modality and group (blind auditory–sighted visual). Together, these findings provide evidence that OTC not only represents objects visually (requiring visual experience) but also represents objects nonvisually, reflecting knowledge of object shape independently of the modality through which this knowledge was acquired. 

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Caramazza, A., Anzellotti, S., Strnad, L., & Lingnau, A. (2014). Embodied cognition and mirror neurons: a critical assessment. Annual Review of Neuroscience. Full Text
Caramazza, A., & Egidi, G. (2014). Mood-dependent integration in discourse comprehension: Happy and sad moods affect consistency processing via different brain networks. NeuroImage , 103, 20-32.Abstract

According to recent research on language comprehension, the semantic features of a text are not the only determinants of whether incoming information is understood as consistent. Listeners' pre-existing affective states play a crucial role as well. The current fMRI experiment examines the effects of happy and sad moods during comprehension of consistent and inconsistent story endings, focusing on brain regions previously linked to two integration processes: inconsistency detection, evident in stronger responses to inconsistent endings, and fluent processing (accumulation), evident in stronger responses to consistent endings. The analysis evaluated whether differences in the BOLD response for consistent and inconsistent story endings correlated with self-reported mood scores after a mood induction procedure. Mood strongly affected regions previously associated with inconsistency detection. Happy mood increased sensitivity to inconsistency in regions specific for inconsistency detection (e.g., left IFG, left STS), whereas sad mood increased sensitivity to inconsistency in regions less specific for language processing (e.g., right med FG, right SFG). Mood affected more weakly regions involved in accumulation of information. These results show that mood can influence activity in areas mediating well-defined language processes, and highlight that integration is the result of context-dependent mechanisms. The finding that language comprehension can involve different networks depending on people's mood highlights the brain's ability to reorganize its functions.

Leshinskaya, A., & Caramazza, A. (2014). Organization and Structure of Conceptual Representations. In V. Ferreira, M. Goldrick, & M. Miozzo (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Language Production (pp. 118-133) . Oxford University Press.
Shapiro, K., & Caramazza, A. (2004). The Organization of Lexical Knowledge in the Brain: The Grammatical Dimension. In M. S. Gazzaniga (Ed.), Cognitive Neurosciences (3rd ed. pp. 803-814) . Cambridge, MA, MIT Press.
Caramazza, A., & Badan, M. (1997). Haptic processing by the left hemisphere in a split-brain patient. Neuropsychologia , 35 (9), 1275-1287. Full Text
Caramazza, A. (1997). How many levels of processing are there in lexical access? Cognitive Neuropsychology , 14 (1), 177-208. Full Text
Caramazza, A., & Chialant, D. (1997). Identity and similarity factors in repetition blindness: Implications for lexical processing. Cognition , 63, 79-119.Abstract

The influence of identity and similarity of repeated items on repetition blindness (RB) was investigated in two rapid-serial-visual processing (RSVP) tasks. In Experiment 1, the difference between correct recall for sentences containing repeated identical items and their controls was contrasted with the difference between correct recall for sentences containing pairs of orthographically similar items (fish – dish) and their controls. In Experiment 2 the same comparison was made between sentences containing repeated identical items and sentences containing pairs of orthographically identical items (the watch – to watch). The amount of RB elicited by the two conditions was measured at three different temporal lags. The results show that the function that describes performance over time for the repeated- identical (R-I) condition is different from that for the condition in which the items are orthographically similar (repeated-neighbor: R-N) or orthographically identical (repeated- homonym: R-H). The results are interpreted as suggesting that the decrements in performance observed for recall of the second occurrence of the repeated item in the R-I and the R-N and R-H conditions have different underlying causes.  

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Laudanna, A., Cermele, A., & Caramazza, A. (1997). Morpho-lexical representations in naming. Language and Cognitive Processes , 12 (1), 49-56.Abstract

In two naming experiments, it was shown that response times for morphologically structured pseudowords are faster than those for orthographically matched controls. These results are consistent with those obtained in lexical decision tasks with morphologically structured pseudowords. The implications of these results for models of lexical processing are considered. In particular, it is argued that the results reported provide support for compositional models of lexical knowledge. 

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Caramazza, A., & Miozzo, M. (1997). The relation between syntactic and phonological knowledge in lexical access: Evidence from the "tip-of-the-tongue" phenomenon. Cognition , 64, 309-343.Abstract

The relation between access to the syntactic and to the phonological features of words in lexical access is investigated in two experiments. Italian speakers were asked to provide the gender and partial phonological information of known nouns they could not produce at that moment, words that they felt were at the tip-of-the-tongue (TOT). In both experiments, subjects were able to provide information about the word they could not produce with better-than-chance accuracy. This was true not only for phonological information such as the initial phoneme of the word but also for the word’s gender – a purely syntactic feature of nouns. However, analyses of the correlation between correct retrieval of the gender and the initial phoneme failed to reveal a positive relationship. This result is inconsistent with theories of lexical access that interpose two lexical nodes, lemma and lexeme nodes, between a word’s semantic and phonological content. A model of lexical access that does not postulate the lemma/lexeme distinction is briefly discussed. 

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Badecker, W., Rapp, B., & Caramazza, A. (1996). Lexical morphology and the two orthographic routes. Cognitive Neuropsychology , 13, 161-175. Full Text
Caramazza, A. (1996). Neuropsychology: Pictures, words and the brain. Nature , 383, 216-217. Full Text
Caramazza, A. (1996). Neuropsychology: The brain's dictionary. Nature , 380, 485-486. Full Text
Caramazza, A., Capasso, R., & Miceli, G. (1996). The role of the graphemic buffer in reading. Cognitive Neuropsychology , 13, 673-698. Full Text
Tainturier, M. J., & Caramazza, A. (1996). The status of double letters in graphemic representations. Journal of Memory & Language , 35, 53-73.