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  • 1.
    Blomberg, Frida
    Lund University.
    Concreteness, Specificity and Emotional Content in Swedish Nouns: Neurocognitive Studies of Word Meaning2016Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The present thesis investigated Swedish nouns differing in concreteness, specificity and emotional content using linguistic, psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic methods. The focus of Paper I was a semantic analysis of discourse produced by a person with a lesion in visual (left occipital) cortex. The results showed that the lesion site was related to with problems processing concrete nouns related to visual semantic features, as well as nouns with high semantic specificity. Paper II compared Swedish ratings of the cognitive psychological parameters imageability, age of acquisition and familiarity to English ratings, showing correlations indicating that ratings can be transferred between the two languages. Suggestions for constructing a Swedish psycholinguistic database were also outlined. In Paper III, four noun categories differing in specificity and emotional arousal (SPECIFIC, GENERAL, EMOTIONAL, ABSTRACT) were compared using a dichotic listening paradigm and a concrete/abstract categorisation task. EMOTIONAL nouns were shown to be processed faster than the other noun categories when presented in the left ear, possibly indicating more right hemisphere involvement. In Paper IV, PSEUDOWORDS as well as SPECIFIC, GENERAL, EMOTIONAL and ABSTRACT nouns were compared during lexical decision and imageability rating tasks using electroencephalography (EEG), targeting the event-related potentials (ERPs) N400 and N700, previously shown to be modulated by concreteness. On the assumption that abstract nouns have a larger number of lexical associates than more concrete nouns, N400 amplitudes were predicted to be smaller for abstract nouns than for concrete nouns. This prediction was supported by the results. Notably, even SPECIFIC and GENERAL nouns were observed to elicit different N400 amplitudes, in accordance with their hierarchical relationship in lexical semantic models. Bringing together theories and methods from linguistics, cognitive psychology and neuroscience, the present interdisciplinary thesis provides insights into word semantics as regards differences related to the cognitive dimension of concreteness and its relation to sensory and emotional meaning features.

  • 2.
    Blomberg, Frida
    Lund University, Sweden.
    Ordens förhållande till sinnena2017In: Årsbok 2017: Vetenskapssocieteten i Lund / [ed] Henrik Rahm, Lund: Vetenskapssocieteten i Lund , 2017, p. 5-21Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 3.
    Blomberg, Frida
    et al.
    Lund University, Sweden.
    Horne, Merle
    Lund University, Sweden.
    Roll, Mikael
    Lund University, Sweden.
    Apt, Pia
    Skåne University Hospital, Sweden.
    Modelling the meaning of words: neural correlates of abstract and concrete noun processing2010In: 13th International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association Conference: June 23-26, 2010, Oslo, Norway, Oslo: University of Oslo , 2010Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 4.
    Blomberg, Frida
    et al.
    Lund university.
    Roll, Mikael
    Lund university.
    Lindgren, Magnus
    Lund university.
    Brännström, Jonas
    Lund university.
    Horne, Merle
    Lund university.
    Emotional arousal and lexical specificity modulate response times differently depending on ear of presentation in a dichotic listening task2015In: The Mental Lexicon, ISSN 1871-1340, E-ISSN 1871-1375, Vol. 10, no 2, p. 221-246, article id b22084c6-6fa2-4de7-9c0b-41f497a9e5a4Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    We investigated possible hemispheric differences in the processing of four different lexical semantic categories: SPECIFIC (e.g. bird), GENERAL (e.g. animal), ABSTRACT (e.g. advice), and EMOTIONAL (e.g. love). These wordtypes were compared using a dichotic listening paradigm and a semantic category classification task. Response times (RTs) were measured when participants classified testwords as concrete or abstract. In line with previous findings, words were expected to be processed faster following right-ear presentation. However, lexical specificity and emotional arousal were predicted to modulate response times differently depending on the ear of presentation. For left-ear presentation, relatively faster RTs were predicted for SPECIFIC and EMOTIONAL words as opposed to GENERAL and ABSTRACT words. An interaction of ear and wordtype was found. For right-ear presentation, RTs increased as testwords’ imageability decreased along the span SPECIFIC–GENERAL–EMOTIONAL–ABSTRACT. In contrast, for left ear presentation, EMOTIONAL words were processed fastest, while SPECIFIC words gave rise to long RTs on par with those for ABSTRACT words. Thus, the prediction for EMOTIONAL words presented in the left ear was borne out, whereas the prediction for SPECIFIC words was not. This might be related to previously found differences in processing of stimuli at a global or local level.

  • 5.
    Blomberg, Frida
    et al.
    Lund University.
    Roll, Mikael
    Lund University.
    Lindgren, Magnus
    Lund University.
    Horne, Merle
    Lund University.
    Lexical specificity, imageability and emotional arousal modulate the N400 and the N7002016In: 8th Annual Meeting of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language. SNL 2016: Abstracts, 2016, p. 207-207Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Introduction: The event-related potential (ERP) componentN400 as well as a later effect, often labeled ‘N700’ haverepeatedly been shown to increase for concrete as compared to abstract words (Barber, Otten, Kousta, & Vigliocco, 2013; Gullick, Mitra, & Coch, 2013; Kounios & Holcomb, 1994; Nittono, Suehiro, & Hori, 2002; West & Holcomb, 2000). In addition, pseudowords elicit greater N400s than real words (Lau, Phillips, & Poeppel, 2008). Previous interpretations of the N400 as indexing contextual integration or alternatively, activation of semantic features in long-term memory, do notfully explain the combination of these differences. The present study compared ERPs in the N400 and N700 time-windows for PSEUDOWORDS (e.g. ‘danalod’) and four noun categories differing in specificity and imageability: (SPECIFIC, e.g. ‘squirrel’, GENERAL, e.g. ‘animal’, EMOTIONAL, e.g. ‘happiness’ and ABSTRACT, e.g. ‘tendency’).

    Methods: EEGwas recorded from 32 scalp electrodes and response times were measured while 35 healthy, right-handed native Swedish speakers (age 20-37) performed an imageability rating (IR) task and a lexical decision (LD) task. The stimuli were 160 written nouns, 40 each of the above-mentioned semantic categories, and 160 phonologically legal pseudowords. Statistical comparisons of ERPs in the N400 (300-500 ms post-stimulus onset) and N700 (500-800 ms post-stimulus onset) time-windows were carried out using within-subjects ANOVAs.

    Results: In the LD task, N400 amplitudes increasedin the order EMOTIONAL < ABSTRACT < GENERAL < SPECIFIC < PSEUDOWORD. A largely similar pattern wasfound in the IR task as well as in the N700 time-window ofboth tasks. N400 and N700 effects were found for SPECIFIC-GENERAL test words also when they were matched for imageability, indicating that something other than imageabilityper se was driving the effects.

    Conclusion: The pattern of ERPamplitudes seen in the present study could be explained by a model which assumes that words with larger numbers of associated words in the mental lexicon yield smaller N400s, for example abstract as compared to concrete words and real words as compared to pseudowords. The fact that N400 andN700 effects were found for SPECIFIC-GENERAL test wordseven when they were matched for imageability indicates that other factors, possibly related to hierarchical semantic relationsbetween concrete noun categories, drive the effect. In line withthe suggested model, this might be explained by superordinate GENERAL nouns having a larger number of lexical associates than SPECIFIC nouns.

    References:

    Barber, H. A., Otten, L. J., Kousta, S.-T., & Vigliocco, G. (2013). Brain and Language, 125(1), 47–53.

    Gullick, M. M., Mitra, P., & Coch, D. (2013). Psychophysiology, 50(5), 431–440.

    Kounios, J., & Holcomb, P. J. (1994). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 20(4), 804–823.

    Lau, E. F., Phillips, C., & Poeppel, D. (2008). Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(12), 920–933.

    Nittono, H., Suehiro, M., & Hori, T. (2002). International Journal of Psychophysiology, 1–11.

    West, W. C., & Holcomb, P. J. (2000). Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 12(6), 1024–1037.

  • 6.
    Blomberg, Frida
    et al.
    Lund University.
    Öberg, Carl
    Lund University.
    Swedish and English word ratings of imageability, familiarity and age of acquisition are highly correlated2015In: Nordic Journal of Linguistics, ISSN 0332-5865, E-ISSN 1502-4717, Vol. 38, no 3, p. 351-364Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    At present, there is no comprehensive psycholinguistic database containing Swedish words with ratings of word properties such as e.g. imageability, although researchers carrying out psycholinguistic studies in Swedish face the need to be able to control for and systematically vary such properties. The present study addressed this issue by investigating the possibility of transferring English word ratings to Swedish. Imageability, familiarity and age of acquisition (AoA) ratings were obtained for a sample of Swedish words (N = 99). These ratings were then compared with the corresponding English ratings from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Psycholinguistic Database (Coltheart 1981) using Spearman correlation. Swedish and English word ratings were found to be highly correlated for imageability and AoA, and moderately correlated for familiarity. Following these results, we suggest that, in general, ratings of these variables can be reliably transferred between the two languages, although some caution should be taken, since for some individual words, some ratings might differ substantially for their Swedish and English translations.

  • 7.
    Johansson, Victoria
    et al.
    Lund University.
    Andersson, Annika
    Lund University.
    Horne, Merle
    Lund University.
    Mårtensson, Frida
    Lund University.
    Roll, Mikael
    Lund University.
    Strandviken, Teresa
    Lund University.
    Sayehli, Susan
    Stockholm University.
    Språk och hjärna2013In: Språket, människan och världen: människans språk 1-2 / [ed] Victoria Johansson, Gerd Carling & Arthur Holmer, Lund: Studentlitteratur AB, 2013, 1, p. 225-241Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 8.
    Mårtensson, Frida
    et al.
    Lund University.
    Horne, Merle
    Lund University.
    Roll, Mikael
    Lund University.
    Apt, Pia
    Skåne University Hospital.
    Implications of aphasia on abstract and concrete noun processing2009In: The 2nd Conference of the Swedish Association for Language and Cognition: 2009, June 10–12, Stockholm University, Sweden, Stockholm: Stockholm University, 2009Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 9.
    Mårtensson, Frida
    et al.
    Lund University.
    Horne, Merle
    Lund University.
    Roll, Mikael
    Lund University.
    Apt, Pia
    Malmö University Hospital.
    Modelling the Meaning of Words: Neural Correlates of Abstract and Concrete Noun Processing2010In: The 20th Annual Rotman Research Institute Conference, The frontal lobes, 2010, no - 4Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    We outline a proposal to relate modelling of word meaning in terms of semantic features and frames to a general hierarchical model of neurocognitive processing [1]. The model assumes that concrete features are processed in low-level, posterior sensory networks, whereas abstract conceptualization involves integration of frame-based information, making it more dependent on higher cognitive functions orchestrated by frontal networks. Episodic memory networks are suggested to be at an intermediate level, i.e. more concrete than general semantic frames, but less concrete than sensory-based information. A word association test was used to investigate the processing of concrete and abstract nouns. Speakers with stroke-related aphasia due to anterior and posterior lesions and healthy controls participated. Assuming visual memory networks to be important for concrete noun processing, left occipital lesions were hypothesized to impair the interpretation of concrete words. Lesions affecting left anterior areas were expected to give rise to the reverse pattern due to difficulties in accessing general semantic frames. Results supported the hypotheses. Compared with controls, anterior aphasic subjects produced fewer semantic frame-based associations, but more associations based on episodic memories and sensory feature similarity. In contrast, occipital lesions implicated fewer associations based on sensory features but more on semantic frames.

    References

    1. Fuster. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 2009, 21, 2047-2072

  • 10.
    Mårtensson, Frida
    et al.
    Lund University.
    Roll, Mikael
    Lund University.
    Apt, Pia
    Skåne University Hospital.
    Horne, Merle
    Lund University.
    Modeling the meaning of words: Neural correlates of abstract and concrete noun processing2011In: Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis, ISSN 0065-1400, E-ISSN 1689-0035, Vol. 71, no 4, p. 455-478Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    We present a model relating analysis of abstract and concrete word meaning in terms of semantic features and contextual frames within a general framework of neurocognitive information processing. The approach taken here assumes concrete noun meanings to be intimately related to sensory feature constellations. These features are processed by posterior sensory regions of the brain, e.g. the occipital lobe, which handles visual information. The interpretation of abstract nouns, however, is likely to be more dependent on semantic frames and linguistic context. A greater involvement of more anteriorly located, perisylvian brain areas has previously been found for the processing of abstract words. In the present study, a word association test was carried out in order to compare semantic processing in healthy subjects (n=12) with subjects with aphasia due to perisylvian lesions (n=3) and occipital lesions (n=1). The word associations were coded into different categories depending on their semantic content. A double dissociation was found, where, compared to the controls, the perisylvian aphasic subjects had problems associating to abstract nouns and produced fewer semantic frame-based associations, whereas the occipital aphasic subject showed disturbances in concrete noun processing and made fewer semantic feature based associations.

  • 11.
    Mårtensson, Frida
    et al.
    Lund University.
    Roll, Mikael
    Lund University.
    Lindgren, Magnus
    Lund University.
    Apt, Pia
    Malmö University Hospital.
    Horne, Merle
    Lund University.
    Abstract, concrete and emotional words in the mental lexicon: A coding scheme for analyzing verbal descriptions of word meanings2011In: The Third Conference of the Scandinavian Association for Language and Cognition, SALC III: Copenhagen, June 14 - 16th 2011, Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen , 2011, p. 86-87Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Previous research has suggested that abstract and concrete semantics are processed and conceptualized differently (Pulvermüller 1999, Crutch & Warrington 2005; Fuster 2009). Specifically, concrete semantics is assumed to be processed by posterior, sensory brain areas, as opposed to an anterior processing of abstract semantic information. In addition, other researchers raise the question whether emotional words should be included in the abstract category (Altarriba & Bauer 2004, Kousta et al. 2009).

    Following this, the present study proposes a method for analyzing spontaneous discourse produced by aphasic and healthy subjects describing the meanings of abstract, concrete, and emotional words. Linguistic data related to word meanings were obtained by asking subjects to describe the meanings of nouns varying in concreteness and emotional arousal freely and as detailed as possible, a method based on Barsalou & Wiemer-Hastings (2005). Subjects with anterior/posterior lesions and healthy controls were hypothesized to differ in their retrieval and verbalization of semantic information related to the cue words, with posterior lesions affecting concrete semantic features and anterior lesions affecting higher levels of abstraction and structuring of information. Emotional information, partly processed by subcortical structures, was expected to be well-preserved despite cortical lesions.

    A coding scheme was developed in order to capture semantic and structural information in the transcribed material, taking the following factors into account:

    • Type of information in an utterance: general/personal:episodic/personal:evaluative/procedural cues
    • Clauses: main/subordinate
    • Relation between produced content word and cue word: contextual/ property-based
    • Semantic information of produced content words: abstract/ concrete/emotional
    • Whether the topic is maintained
    • Whether the information is semantically acceptable

    The proposed coding scheme makes it possible to investigate how different brain lesions affect retrieval and expression of semantic information with differing degrees of abstractness.

    Altarriba, J. & Bauer, L.M. (2004). The distinctiveness of emotion concepts: A comparison between emotion, abstract, and concrete words. The American Journal of Psychology 117(3), 389-410.

    Barsalou, L.W. & Wiemer-Hastings, K. (2005). Situating Abstract Concepts. In Grounding Cognition: The Role of Perception and Action in Memory, Language, and Thinking. Pecher, D. & Zwaan, R.A.(Eds). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Crutch, S.J. & Warrington, E.K. (2005). Abstract and concrete concepts have structurally different representational frameworks. Brain 128, 615-627.

    Fuster, J. (2009) Cortex and memory: Emergence of a new paradigm. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 21,11, 2047-2072.

    Kousta, S-T., Vigliocco, G., Vinson, D.P Andrews, M. (2009). Happiness is... an abstract word. The role of affect in abstract knowledge representation. In N.A. Taatgen & H. van Rijn (Eds.), Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 1115-1120. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Pulvermüller, F. (1999). Words in the brain's language. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22, 253-336.

  • 12.
    Mårtensson, Frida
    et al.
    Lund University.
    Roll, Mikael
    Lund University.
    Lindgren, Magnus
    Lund University.
    Apt, Pia
    Skåne University Hospital.
    Horne, Merle
    Lund University.
    Sensory-specific anomic aphasia following left occipital lesions: data from free oral descriptions of concrete word meanings2013In: The Scandinavian Association for Language and Cognition. SALC IV, June 12-14, 2013. University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu: Abstracts of the presentations. May 14, 2013, Joensuu: University of Eastern Finland , 2013Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Nouns with a high degree of semantic specificity (e.g., ‘robin’) can be assumed to be more closelyrelated to sensory information as opposed to more non-specific nouns belonging to the same lexicalsemantic hierarchy (e.g., ‘animal’) (Rosch, 1978). As the majority of concrete nouns denote thingsthat can be experienced visually, activation of visual information might be necessary for concrete noun processing, in which case damage to visual (occipital) cortex might selectively affect morespecific nouns. Supporting this idea, nouns (e.g., ’table’) and verbs (e.g., ’kick’) have been found toactivate brain regions involved in experiencing their referred objects and actions (Pulvermüller & Fadiga 2010).

    Individuals with lesions in visual brain areas have previously been shown to have difficulties accessing words related to the visual modality (Manning 2000; Gainotti 2004). In these studies, the focus has been on comparing different modes of presentation (e.g., visual/tactile/verbal). However, it could further be hypothesised that when visual areas are damaged, the degree of visual semantic content would also affect performance.

    The present study investigated hierarchical lexical semantic structure in free oral descriptions of concrete word meanings produced by a subject (ZZ) diagnosed with anomic aphasia due to left occipital lesions. The focus of the analysis was production of a) nouns at different levels of semanticspecificity (e.g. ‘robin’–‘bird’–‘animal’) and b) words describing sensory or motor experiences (e.g. ‘blue’, ‘soft’, ‘fly’).

    Results showed that in contrast to healthy and aphasic controls, who produced words at all levels of specificity and mainly vision-related sensory information, ZZ produced almost exclusively nouns at the most non-specific levels and words associated with sound and movement, suggesting that his anomia is sensory-specific and dependent on the modality of the semantic content of words.

    References

    Crutch, S.J. & Warrington, E.K. (2008). Contrasting patterns of comprehension for superordinate, basic level, and subordinate names in semantic dementia and aphasic stroke patients. Cognitive Neuropsychology 25(4), 582-600.

    Gainotti, G. (2004). A metanalysis of impaired and spared naming for different categories of knowledge in patients with a visuo-verbal disconnection. Neuropsychologia 42, 299-319.

    Manning, L. (2000). Loss of visual imagery and defective recognition of parts of wholes in optic aphasia.NeuroCase 6 (2), 111-128.

    Rosch, E. (1978). Principles of categorization. In: Rosch, Eleanor and Barbara B. Lloyd, eds., Cognition and Categorization. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp. 27-48.

    Pulvermüller, F. & Fadiga, L. (2010). Active perception: sensorimotor circuits as a cortical basis for language. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 11, 351-360.

  • 13.
    Mårtensson, Frida
    et al.
    Lund University.
    Roll, Mikael
    Lund University.
    Lindgren, Magnus
    Lund University.
    Apt, Pia
    Skåne University Hospital.
    Horne, Merle
    Lund University.
    Sensory-specific anomic aphasia following left occipital lesions: Data from free oral descriptions of concrete word meanings2014In: Neurocase, ISSN 1355-4794, E-ISSN 1465-3656, Vol. 20, no 2, p. 192-207Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The present study investigated hierarchical lexical semantic structure in oral descriptions of concrete word meanings produced by a subject (ZZ) diagnosed with anomic aphasia due to left occipital lesions. The focus of the analysis was production of a) nouns at different levels of semantic specificity (e.g., "robin"-"bird"-"animal") and b) words describing sensory or motor experiences (e.g., "blue," "soft," "fly"). Results show that in contrast to healthy and aphasic controls, who produced words at all levels of specificity and mainly vision-related sensory information, ZZ produced almost exclusively nouns at the most non-specific levels and words associated with sound and movement.

  • 14.
    Mårtensson, Frida
    et al.
    Lund University.
    Roll, Mikael
    Lund University.
    Lindgren, Magnus
    Lund University.
    Brännström, Jonas
    Lund University.
    Horne, Merle
    Lund University.
    Dichotic listening with specific, general, abstract and emotional words: semantic judgments and reaction times2014In: The Ninth International Conference on the Mental Lexicon: September 30th-October 2nd, 2014. Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Brock University & McMaster University , 2014, p. 78-78Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 15.
    Roll, Mikael
    et al.
    Lund University, Sweden.
    Blomberg, Frida
    Lund University, Sweden.
    Horne, Merle
    Lund University, Sweden.
    Sikström, Sverker
    Stockholm University, Sweden.
    Apt, Pia
    Malmö University Hospital, Sweden.
    Atypical abstract associations in aphasia measured by a semantic space model2010In: The 20th Annual Rotman Research Institute Conference, The frontal lobes: Toronto, Canada, 22 Mar - 26 Mar, 2010, Toronto: Rotman Research Institute of Baycrest , 2010, no - 8Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Semantic similarity between concrete and abstract cue words and free association words was measured for aphasic subjects with left perisylvian lesions using a semantic space model. Aphasic participants showed more atypical associations the more abstract the cue words were. They also generally produced less abstract words than control subjects. The results support models assuming that the meanings of concrete words are represented in bi-hemispheric networks of semantic features in the brain, whereas the representation of abstract words is more dependent on the left perisylvian language network.

  • 16.
    Roll, Mikael
    et al.
    Lund University.
    Mårtensson, Frida
    Lund University.
    Horne, Merle
    Lund University.
    Sikström, Sverker
    Lund University.
    Apt, Pia
    Skånes University Hospital.
    Atypical associations to abstract words in Broca's aphasia2012In: Cortex, ISSN 0010-9452, E-ISSN 1973-8102, Vol. 48, no 8, p. 1068-1072Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Introduction

    Left frontal brain lesions are known to give rise to aphasia and impaired word associations. These associations have previously been difficult to analyze. We used a semantic space method to investigate associations to cue words. The degree of abstractness of the generated words and semantic similarity to the cue words were measured.

    Method

    Three subjects diagnosed with Broca’s aphasia and twelve control subjects associated freely to cue words. Results were evaluated with latent semantic analysis (LSA) applied to the Swedish Parole corpus.

    Results

    The aphasic subjects could be clearly distinguished from controls by a lower degree of abstractness in the words they generated. The aphasic group’s associations showed a negative correlation between semantic similarity to cue word and abstractness of cue word.

    Conclusions

    By developing novel semantic measures, we showed that Broca’s aphasic subjects’ word production was characterized by a low degree of abstractness and low degree of coherence in associations to abstract cue words. The results support models where meanings of concrete words are represented in neural networks involving perceptual and motor areas, whereas the meaning of abstract words is more dependent on connections to other word forms in the left frontal region. Semantic spaces can be used in future developments of evaluative tools for both diagnosis and research purposes.

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