Direct physiologic evidence of a heteromodal convergence region for proper naming in human left anterior temporal lobe

J Neurosci. 2015 Jan 28;35(4):1513-20. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3387-14.2015.


Retrieving the names of friends, loved ones, and famous people is a fundamental human ability. This ability depends on the left anterior temporal lobe (ATL), where lesions can be associated with impaired naming of people regardless of modality (e.g., picture or voice). This finding has led to the idea that the left ATL is a modality-independent convergence region for proper naming. Hypotheses for how proper-name dispositions are organized within the left ATL include both a single modality-independent (heteromodal) convergence region and spatially discrete modality-dependent (unimodal) regions. Here we show direct electrophysiologic evidence that the left ATL is heteromodal for proper-name retrieval. Using intracranial recordings placed directly on the surface of the left ATL in human subjects, we demonstrate nearly identical responses to picture and voice stimuli of famous U.S. politicians during a naming task. Our results demonstrate convergent and robust large-scale neurophysiologic responses to picture and voice naming in the human left ATL. This finding supports the idea of heteromodal (i.e., transmodal) dispositions for proper naming in the left ATL.

Keywords: electrocorticography; language; naming; temporal pole.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Electroencephalography
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Names*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Semantics
  • Spectrum Analysis
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*