Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 May 8;7:175. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00175. eCollection 2013.

Is there a semantic system for abstract words?

Author information

  • 1Cognitive Neuroscience Sector, SISSA Trieste, Italy ; Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London London, UK.


Two views on the semantics of concrete words are that their core mental representations are feature-based or are reconstructions of sensory experience. We argue that neither of these approaches is capable of representing the semantics of abstract words, which involve the representation of possibly hypothetical physical and mental states, the binding of entities within a structure, and the possible use of embedding (or recursion) in such structures. Brain based evidence in the form of dissociations between deficits related to concrete and abstract semantics corroborates the hypothesis. Neuroimaging evidence suggests that left lateral inferior frontal cortex supports those processes responsible for the representation of abstract words.


abstract words; concepts; embodied cognition; left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex; semantics

Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Frontiers Media SA Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk