Neural correlates of naming actions and of naming spatial relations

Neuroimage. 2001 Jun;13(6 Pt 1):1053-64. doi: 10.1006/nimg.2001.0775.


Ina [(15)O] water PET experiment, 10 normal subjects retrieved words denoting actions (performed with or without an implement), and another 10 normal subjects retrieved words denoting the spatial relations between objects. Our objective was to test the following hypothesis: that the salient neural activity associated with naming actions and spatial relations occurs in left frontal operculum and left parietal association cortices, but not in the left inferotemporal cortices (IT) or in the right parietal association cortices. There were two control tasks, one requiring a decision on the orientation of unknown faces (a standard control task in our laboratory) and another requiring the retrieval of words denoting the concrete entities used in the action and spatial relations tasks. In accordance with the hypothesis, both naming actions and spatial relations (using the face orientation task as control activated the left frontal operculum; naming actions also activated the left parietal lobe. However, sectors of the left posterior IT were also engaged in both naming actions and spatial relations. When the naming of concrete entities was subtracted from the naming of actions performed with such entities, area MT in the posterior temporo-occipital region was activated bilaterally. On the other hand, when naming of the concrete entities was subtracted from the naming of spatial relations, left parietal activation was found, and when two tasks of naming spatial relations were contrasted to each other bilateral parietal activation was seen, right when abstract stimuli were used and left when concrete objects were used. The activity in posterior IT is thought to be related to object processing and possibly name retrieval at a subconscious level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Reference Values
  • Semantics
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology*
  • Verbal Learning / physiology*