Shared Space, Separate Processes: Neural Activation Patterns for Auditory Description and Visual Object Naming in Healthy Adults

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Abstract

Historically, both clinicians and cognitive scientists have used visual object naming measures to study naming, and lesion-type studies have implicated the left posterior, temporo-parietal region as a critical component of naming circuitry. However, recent results from behavioral and cortical stimulation studies using auditory description naming as well as visual object naming in left temporal lobe epilepsy patients suggest that discrete sites in anterior temporal cortex are critical for description naming, whereas posterior temporal regions mediate both visual object naming and description naming. To determine whether this task specificity reflects normal cerebral organization and processing, 13 healthy adults performed description naming and visual naming during functional neuroimaging. In addition to standard univariate analysis, multivariate, ordinal trend analysis examined the network character of the regions involved in task-specific naming. Univariate analysis indicated posterior temporal activation for both visual naming and description naming, whereas multivariate analysis revealed broader networks for both tasks, with both overlapping and task-specific regions, as well as task-related differences in the way the tasks utilized common regions. Additionally, multivariate analysis revealed unique, task-specific, regionally covarying activation patterns that were strikingly consistent in all 13 subjects for visual naming and 12/13 subjects for description naming. Results suggest a common neural substrate, yet differentiable neural processes underlying visual naming and description naming in neurologically intact individuals. These findings support the use of both types of tasks for clinical assessment and may have application in the treatment of neurologically based naming deficits. Hum Brain Mapp 35:2507–2520, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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