Event Abstract

The effects of training action naming: a BOLD fMRI study

  • 1 Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  • 2 Center for Mind/Brain Sciences, University of Trento, Italy
  • 3 Royal Holloway University, United Kingdom

Background. Task practice effects induce decreases and increases in the BOLD signal (Grafman, 2000). It is assumed that the type of knowledge engaged by the task determines the observed patterns of practice-related BOLD change (Petersen et al., 1998). In object naming, task practice has been characterized by deactivations in areas involved in perceptual priming, articulatory planning, and phonological retrieval (Basso et al., 2013). Item practice resulted in deactivations in areas involved in structural image processing, and hyper-activation in areas involved in episodic memory. No prior studies investigated effects of training action naming. Verbs and nouns differ in a number of linguistic properties, with verbs having looser word-to-meaning mappings, and further grammatical information (e.g., argument structure, inflectional paradigms), when compared to nouns (see Conroy et al., 2006). The differences are relevant to the field of aphasia rehabilitation, as verb production can be treated using similar tasks as noun production, but smaller treatment effects are typically reported for verbs (Webster & Whitworth, 2012). Method. Sixteen right-handed, healthy native Italian speakers participated in two fMRI sessions, with a 2-week interval in between. Participants overtly named 60 pictures of actions, representing 40 low-frequency verbs, and 20 high-frequency verbs. In the baseline condition, participants were instructed to produce the pseudoword /bertova/ each time they saw a distorted, Fourier transformed version of the stimuli (see Figure 1). Between the first and second fMRI session, participants trained twenty low frequency verbs at home for 10 consecutive days. Training consisted of repeated naming (10 times per day, using a different picture exemplar each time). Results and discussion. In the first fMRI session, preliminary data from 10 participants showed increased activation for the comparison between action naming and the baseline condition in areas involved in picture naming (left inferior frontal gyrus, bilateral lingual gyri, and right insula, Basso et al., 2013), action processing (left head of the caudate nucleus, Grahn et al., 2008), and retrieving structural image representations (bilateral fusiform gyri, Chao et al., 1999). No significant differences were found between trained and untrained items. In the second fMRI session, the comparison between trained and untrained verbs elicited increased activity in areas involved in implicit and explicit practice (bilateral posterior cingulate gyrus, Trinkler et al., 2009), verb processing, and phonological processing (bilateral middle temporal gyri, Hickok & Poeppel, 2007; Papeo et al., 2014), spatial and motor representations of actions (bilateral posterior parietal lobe, Andersen et al., 1997), verb processing and motor planning (bilateral middle frontal gyri, Grèzes & Decety, 2001; Lubrano et al., 2014). Deactivations were observed in areas related to language processing and image representations (left insula and IFG, medial part of left superior frontal gyrus and left fusiform gyrus). Conclusion. Training action naming elicited increased and decreased activation in the action naming network and increased activation in areas involved in implicit and explicit retrieval of prior item occurrences. Additional comparisons focusing on the effects of task-practice and word frequency will be performed to allow a more direct comparison to the work of Basso et al. (2013).

Figure 1


Funding was provided by PAT (Provincia Autonoma di Trento) and Fondazione CaRiTRO (Cassa di Risparmio di Trento e Rovereto) to GM; and by an Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate grant (IDEALAB: Macquarie University, Newcastle University, University of Groningen, University of Trento and University of Potsdam) to VdA and AR (agreement number 2012-0025; cohort 2012-2015). The authors report no conflict of interest.


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Keywords: action naming, Naming practice protocol, Item practice, Cingulate cortex, Left prefrontal cortex, left insula, Posterior parietal cortex, Middle temporal gyrus

Conference: 54th Annual Academy of Aphasia Meeting, Llandudno, United Kingdom, 16 Oct - 18 Oct, 2016.

Presentation Type: Poster Sessions

Topic: Academy of Aphasia

Citation: De Aguiar V, Rofes A, Lingnau A and Miceli G (2016). The effects of training action naming: a BOLD fMRI study. Front. Psychol. Conference Abstract: 54th Annual Academy of Aphasia Meeting. doi: 10.3389/conf.fpsyg.2016.68.00096

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Received: 29 Apr 2016; Published Online: 15 Aug 2016.

* Correspondence: PhD. Vânia De Aguiar, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, deaguiar@jhmi.edu