Poster A64, Saturday, March 25, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Processing of up/down words recruits cortical oculomotor areas
Markus Ostarek1,2, Jeroen van Paridon1,2, Samuel Evans3, Falk Huettig1,4; 1Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, 2International Max Planck Research School for Language Sciences, 3Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, 4Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behavior, Radboud University, Nijmegen
Behavioural evidence suggests that processing words with spatial up/down associations (e.g., cloud vs. grass) influences performance at detecting/discriminating visual targets appearing in compatible vs. incompatible location (Gozli et al., 2013). Recent eye-tracking studies (Dudschig et al., 2013; Dunn, 2016) indicate that such implicit up/down words modulate vertical saccade latencies. Based on these findings, we tested the hypothesis that conceptual processing of up/down words recruits the cortical saccade network. We collected functional magnetic resonance imaging data from 18 participants who first performed a semantic judgement task on 12 up words, 12 down words, and 24 abstract control words, and then performed a separate run involving upward and downward saccadic eye movements. Searchlight-based multivariate pattern analysis was used to 1) identify brain areas from which the words' spatial associations could be decoded and 2) identify brain areas from which the direction of eye movements could be decoded. Our main result was that activity patterns in Brodmann areas 6 and 8 (including the frontal and supplementary eye fields) yielded above-chance classification in both domains. This suggests that conceptual processing of up/down words at least partly involves cortical oculomotor areas that are central for the planning and execution of vertical saccadic eye movements.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Semantic