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Book Chapter

The Feature-Based Model of Semantic Memory


Noppeney,  U
Research Group Cognitive Neuroimaging, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Noppeney, U. (2004). The Feature-Based Model of Semantic Memory. In Human Brain Function (pp. 533-545). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier.

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This chapter focuses on functional imaging studies that investigate the feature-based model of semantic organization and tests for anatomical segregation underlying different types of semantic features. It discusses the contributions of functional imaging to our understanding of how conceptual knowledge is represented in the human brain. The first section outlines the feature-based account of semantic organization. The feature-based account can explain category-specific semantic deficits for living and nonliving items without assuming category-specificity as an underlying organizational principle of semantic memory. The feature-based model is thought to be implemented in the human brain in terms of input and output channels. This chapter also describes the potential and pitfalls of functional imaging as a means to investigate the organizational principles of semantic memory. Furthermore, it reviews functional imaging evidence for a role of a left posterior middle temporal area in action semantics and a left fusiform area in visual semantics. Finally, it discusses the feature-based account and concludes that specialization of brain regions for different types of semantic knowledge can only be understood within particular task contexts.