The role of the left prefrontal cortex in verbal processing: semantic processing or willed action?

Neuroreport. 1994 Oct 27;5(16):2193-6. doi: 10.1097/00001756-199410270-00051.


This study was designed to test the various proposed explanations (semantic processing, willed action, production of a spoken response) for the unilateral activation of the left prefrontal cortex noted in PET studies of verbal processing. Twenty subjects underwent 15O-water PET scans while undertaking a lexical task (detecting the letter 'a' in visually presented words) and a semantic task (categorizing nouns into living/non-living). The semantic task resulted in a significant unilateral left dorsolateral prefrontal activation. This finding suggests that the left inferior prefrontal cortex is the anatomical region involved in 'working with meaning', and that the activation does not reflect willed action, is not task-specific and is not attributable to the requirements of a spoken response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Processes*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Semantics*
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology*
  • Volition / physiology*