Coherent concepts are computed in the anterior temporal lobes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In his Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein famously noted that the formation of semantic representations requires more than a simple combination of verbal and nonverbal features to generate conceptually based similarities and differences. Classical and contemporary neuroscience has tended to focus upon how different neocortical regions contribute to conceptualization through the summation of modality-specific information. The additional yet critical step of computing coherent concepts has received little attention. Some computational models of semantic memory are able to generate such concepts by the addition of modality-invariant information coded in a multidimensional semantic space. By studying patients with semantic dementia, we demonstrate that this aspect of semantic memory becomes compromised following atrophy of the anterior temporal lobes and, as a result, the patients become increasingly influenced by superficial rather than conceptual similarities.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2717-2722
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2010