PhD student Kyriaki Neophytou won an Onassis Scholarship. The funded project is entitled, “The neural instantiation of concrete and abstract words: local and global organization in healthy and semantically impaired people.”
In sum, this project is about using multivariate analysis methods of fMRI data to investigate the neural organization differences between concrete and abstract words. Concrete and abstract words differ with respect to how easily their attributes can be represented in terms of perceptual and motor information (e.g., information derived from the senses – vision, audition, touch, etc.). Previous studies investigating concreteness effects in healthy adults often reported an advantage for concrete items. However, the findings on concreteness effects in people with a semantic impairment are more complex – some researchers have found that higher concreteness can have a positive effect on performance, while others reported a negative effect. Using advanced fMRI analysis techniques, the goal is to shed light on the neural network organization of concrete and abstract words, which can have important implications for our understanding of the underlying neural deficits that give rise to the concreteness effects.