Edited by Marianna Bolognesi and Gerard J. Steen
[Human Cognitive Processing 65] 2019
► pp. 59–74
Chapter 3Inferential processing with concrete vs. abstract words and visual cortex
In this chapter, I discuss the neuroscientific evidence concerning the role of the visual cortex for inferential semantic processing of concrete vs. abstract words. Results of my review suggest that visual cortex activity not only systematically accompanies inferential processing of concrete words, but it is also an active (facilitating) component of it. This is consistent with the Simulation or Embodied accounts of lexical semantic competence, according to which language understanding in general just consists in imagery/simulation processes underpinned by dedicated areas of the brain (e.g., the visual cortex). However, I show that this is not the case for words referring to abstract concepts: inferential processing of abstract words does not seem to involve visual cortex. The theoretical consequences of this phenomenon are also discussed.
- 1.Lexical inferential competence and visual-related cortex
- 2.Evidence from neuroimaging studies
- 3.Evidence from patient studies