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Lang Cogn Process. 2011 Jul 26;26(9):1368-1401.

Conceptual structure: Towards an integrated neuro-cognitive account.

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  • 1Centre for Speech, Language and the Brain, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EB, U.K. ; Memory Clinic - Neuropsychology Center, University Hospital Basel, Schanzenstrasse 55, 4031 Basel, Switzerland.


How are the meanings of concepts represented and processed? We present a cognitive model of conceptual representations and processing - the Conceptual Structure Account (CSA; Tyler & Moss, 2001) - as an example of a distributed, feature-based approach. In a first section, we describe the CSA and evaluate relevant neuropsychological and experimental behavioral data. We discuss studies using linguistic and non-linguistic stimuli, which are both presumed to access the same conceptual system. We then take the CSA as a framework for hypothesising how conceptual knowledge is represented and processed in the brain. This neuro-cognitive approach attempts to integrate the distributed feature-based characteristics of the CSA with a distributed and feature-based model of sensory object processing. Based on a review of relevant functional imaging and neuropsychological data, we argue that distributed accounts of feature-based representations have considerable explanatory power, and that a cognitive model of conceptual representations is needed to understand their neural bases.

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