Some models of word comprehension postulate that the processing of words presented in different modalities and languages ultimately converges toward common cerebral systems associated with semantic-level processing and that the localization of these systems may vary with the category of semantic knowledge being accessed. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate this hypothesis with two categories of words, numerals, and body parts, for which the existence of distinct category-specific areas is debated in neuropsychology. Across two experiments, one with a blocked design and the other with an event-related design, a reproducible set of left-hemispheric parietal and prefrontal areas showed greater activation during the manipulation of topographical knowledge about body parts and a right-hemispheric parietal network during the manipulation of numerical quantities. These results complement the existing neuropsychological and brain-imaging literature by suggesting that within the extensive network of bilateral parietal regions active during both number and body-part processing, a subset shows category-specific responses independent of the language and modality of presentation. (C) 2000 Academic Press.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Eric Giacomini and Ruxandra Stanescu for experimental support. Supported by grants from GIS “Sciences de la Cognition,” the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale, and the McDonnell Foundation.