Controversies exist regarding: (a) the relationships between perceptual and conceptual activities and (b) the format and neuro-anatomical substrates of concepts. Some authors maintain that concepts are represented in the brain in a propositional, abstract way, which is totally unrelated to the sensory-motor functions of the brain. Other authors argue that concepts are represented in the same format in which they are constructed by the sensory-motor system and can be considered as activity patterns distributed across different perceptual and motor domains. The present paper examines two groups of investigations that support the second view. Particular attention is given to the role of body movements and somatosensory inputs in the representation of artifacts and, respectively, of visual and other perceptual sources of knowledge in the construction of biological categories. The first group of studies aimed to assess the weight of various kinds of information in the representation of different conceptual categories by asking normal subjects to subjectively evaluate the role of various perceptual, motor, and encyclopedic sources of knowledge in the construction of different semantic categories.The second group of studies investigated the neuro-anatomical correlates of various types of categorical disorders.These last inves-tigations showed that the cortical areas damaged in patients with a disorder selectively affecting a given category have a critical role in processing the information that has con-tributed most to constructing the affected category. Both lines of research suggest that body movements and somatosensory information have a major role in the representation of actions and artifacts mainly known through manipulations and other actions, whereas visual and other perceptual information has a dominant role in the representation of animals and other living things. © 2012 Gainotti.
- Animals vs. Fruits and vegeta-bles
- Anterior temporal lobes
- Category-specific semantic disorders
- Left fronto-parietal lesions
- Models of conceptual knowledge
- Sources of knowledge