The ventral and inferolateral aspects of the anterior temporal lobe are crucial in semantic memory: evidence from a novel direct comparison of distortion-corrected fMRI, rTMS, and semantic dementia

Cereb Cortex. 2010 Nov;20(11):2728-38. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhq019. Epub 2010 Feb 26.


Although there is an emerging consensus that the anterior temporal lobes (ATLs) are involved in semantic memory, it is currently unclear which specific parts of this region are implicated in semantic representation. Answers to this question are difficult to glean from the existing literature for 3 reasons: 1) lesions of relevant patient groups tend to encompass the whole ATL region; 2) while local effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) are spatially more specific, only the lateral aspects of the ATL are available to stimulation; and 3) until recently, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies were hindered by technical limitations such as signal distortion and dropout due to magnetic inhomogeneities and also, in some cases, by methodological factors, including a restricted field of view and the choice of baseline contrast for subtraction analysis. By utilizing the same semantic task across semantic dementia, rTMS, and distortion-corrected fMRI in normal participants, we directly compared the results across the 3 methods for the first time. The findings were highly convergent and indicated that crucial regions within the ATL for semantic representation include the anterior inferior temporal gyrus, anterior fusiform gyrus, and the anterior superior temporal sulcus.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration / pathology
  • Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration / physiopathology*
  • Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration / psychology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Semantics*
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*
  • Young Adult