Words’ meanings mapped in the brain | Science News

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Words’ meanings mapped in the brain

Language comprehension spread all across cortex, not confined to specific areas

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1:07pm, April 27, 2016
brain map

ALL OVER THE MAP  The brain areas that respond to the meaning of words speckle much of the cerebral cortex, the wrinkly outer layer of the brain.

In the brain, language pops up everywhere.

All across the wrinkly expanse of the brain’s outer layer, a constellation of different regions handle the meaning of language, scientists report online April 27 in Nature.

One region that responds to “family,” “home” and “mother,” for example, rests in a tiny chunk of tissue on the right side of the brain, above and behind the ear. That region and others were revealed by an intricate new map that charts the location of hundreds of areas that respond to words with related meanings.

Such a detailed map hints that humans comprehend language in a way that’s much more complicated — and involves many more brain areas — than scientists previously thought, says Stanford University neuroscientist Russell Poldrack, who was not involved in the work.

In fact, he says, “these data suggest we

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