The neural basis of semantic cognition in Mandarin Chinese: A combined fMRI and TMS study

Hum Brain Mapp. 2019 Dec 15;40(18):5412-5423. doi: 10.1002/hbm.24781. Epub 2019 Sep 10.


While converging sources of evidence point to the possibility of a large-scale distributed network for semantic cognition, a consensus regarding the underlying subregions and their specific function in this network has not been reached. In the current study, we combined functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) methodology to investigate the neural basis of semantic cognition in Mandarin Chinese. In the fMRI experiment, strong activations were observed in left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and left middle temporal gyrus (MTG) for semantic judgment task. Moreover, functional connectivity was found from seed region left IFG to left MTG. Meanwhile, negative correlation between performance and extracted parameter estimates from left IFG to left MTG was detected in semantic task. Subsequent TMS stimulation over left IFG resulted in performance deficits in semantic judgment task, in contrast to other three sites: left MTG, right intraparietal sulcus (IPS) and a control site. We concluded that the neural basis of semantic processing for Mandarin Chinese closely resembled that for alphabetic languages such as English, supporting a language-universal view on semantic cognition.

Keywords: fMRI and TMS; inferior frontal gyrus; posterior middle temporal gyrus; semantic cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / diagnostic imaging
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Semantics*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*
  • Young Adult