A place for nouns and a place for verbs? A critical review of neurocognitive data on grammatical class effects


Brain and Language, 116(1), 33‑49


January, 2011


Crepaldi, D., Berlingeri, M., Paulesu, E., & Luzzatti, C.

It is generally held that noun processing is specifically sub-served by temporal areas, while the neural underpinnings of verb processing are located in the frontal lobe. However, this view is now challenged by a significant body of evidence accumulated over the years. Moreover, the results obtained so far on the neural implementation of noun and verb processing appear to be quite inconsistent. The present review briefly describes and critically re-considers the anatomo-correlative, neuroimaging, MEG, TMS and cortical stimulation studies on nouns and verbs with the aim of assessing the consistency of their results, particularly within techniques. The paper also addresses the question as to whether the inconsistency of the data could be due to the variety of the tasks used. However, it emerged that neither the different investigation techniques used nor the different cognitive tasks employed fully explain the variability of the data. In the final section we thus suggest that the main reason for the emergence of inconsistent data in this field is that the cerebral circuits underlying noun and verb processing are not spatially segregated, at least for the spatial resolution currently used in most neuroimaging studies.