Does the neural representation of new objects in semantic memory reflect object-related sensory experience?

funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft - Project B6 within SFB 874 - Integration and Representation of Sensory Processes 


An ongoing debate in cognitive neuroscience is concerned with the question how the stimuli in our environment are categorized and how they are represented in the brain. Selective loss of semantic knowledge affecting the categories “living” or “non-living”, observed in brain-lesioned patients, suggests that the entities in semantic memory are organized in a category-specific way. The so called modality-specific account of semantic memory organization states that the brain representation of knowledge about different entities of semantic memory reflects the degree to which different sensory systems contributed to knowledge acquisition about the entity in question. The proposed project aims to investigate the role of object-related sensory experience for object representations in semantic memory. More specifically, it will be examined, if qualitatively different types of sensory experience lead to qualitatively different semantic memory representations for new, unknown objects. In the first part of the project the main emphasis will be on the comparison of tactile manipulative and visual object related information. Another main aim of the proposed project is to elucidate, in how far the observation of object manipulation induces object representations in action related brain regions, similar to the representations induced by active object manipulation. The final phase will be dedicated to studying the integration of two modalities in semantic memory representations.