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Anatomical correlates for category-specific naming of objects and actions: A brain stimulation mapping study



The production of object and action words can be dissociated in aphasics, yet their anatomical correlates have been difficult to distinguish in functional imaging studies. To investigate the extent to which the cortical neural networks underlying object- and action-naming processing overlap, we performed electrostimulation mapping (ESM), which is a neurosurgical mapping technique routinely used to examine language function during brain-tumor resections. Forty-one right-handed patients who had surgery for a brain tumor were asked to perform overt naming of object and action pictures under stimulation. Overall, 73 out of the 633 stimulated cortical sites (11.5%) were associated with stimulation-induced language interferences. These interference sites were very much localized (<1 cm2), and showed substantial variability across individuals in their exact localization. Stimulation interfered with both object and action naming over 44 sites, whereas it specifically interfered with object naming over 19 sites and with action naming over 10 sites. Specific object-naming sites were mainly identified in Broca's area (Brodmann area 44/45) and the temporal cortex, whereas action-naming specific sites were mainly identified in the posterior midfrontal gyrus (Brodmann area 6/9) and Broca's area (P = 0.003 by the Fisher's exact test). The anatomical loci we emphasized are in line with a cortical distinction between objects and actions based on conceptual/semantic features, so the prefrontal/premotor cortex would preferentially support sensorimotor contingencies associated with actions, whereas the temporal cortex would preferentially underpin (functional) properties of objects. Hum Brain Mapp 35:429–443, 2014. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.