Intrinsic functional network architecture of human semantic processing: Modules and hubs

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Semantic processing entails the activation of widely distributed brain areas across the temporal, parietal, and frontal lobes. To understand the functional structure of this semantic system, we examined its intrinsic functional connectivity pattern using a database of 146 participants. Focusing on areas consistently activated during semantic processing generated from a meta-analysis of 120 neuroimaging studies (Binder et al., 2009), we found that these regions were organized into three stable modules corresponding to the default mode network (Module DMN), the left perisylvian network (Module PSN), and the left frontoparietal network (Module FPN). These three dissociable modules were integrated by multiple connector hubs—the left angular gyrus (AG) and the left superior/middle frontal gyrus linking all three modules, the left anterior temporal lobe linking Modules DMN and PSN, the left posterior portion of dorsal intraparietal sulcus (IPS) linking Modules DMN and FPN, and the left posterior middle temporal gyrus (MTG) linking Modules PSN and FPN. Provincial hubs, which converge local information within each system, were also identified: the bilateral posterior cingulate cortices/precuneus, the bilateral border area of the posterior AG and the superior lateral occipital gyrus for Module DMN; the left supramarginal gyrus, the middle part of the left MTG and the left orbital inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) for Module FPN; and the left triangular IFG and the left IPS for Module FPN. A neuro-functional model for semantic processing was derived based on these findings, incorporating the interactions of memory, language, and control.

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