Dissociable intrinsic functional networks support noun-object and verb-action processing

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The processing mechanism of verbs-actions and nouns-objects is a central topic of language research, with robust evidence for behavioral dissociation. The neural basis for these two major word and/or conceptual classes, however, remains controversial. Two experiments were conducted to study this question from the network perspective. Experiment 1 found that nodes of the same class, obtained through task-evoked brain imaging meta-analyses, were more strongly connected with each other than nodes of different classes during resting-state, forming segregated network modules. Experiment 2 examined the behavioral relevance of these intrinsic networks using data from 88 brain-damaged patients, finding that across patients the relative strength of functional connectivity of the two networks significantly correlated with the noun-object vs. verb-action relative behavioral performances. In summary, we found that verbs-actions and nouns-objects are supported by separable intrinsic functional networks and that the integrity of such networks accounts for the relative noun-object- and verb-action-selective deficits.

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