Technical Program

Paper Detail

Paper: PS-1A.3
Session: Poster Session 1A
Location: H Lichthof
Session Time: Saturday, September 14, 16:30 - 19:30
Presentation Time:Saturday, September 14, 16:30 - 19:30
Presentation: Poster
Publication: 2019 Conference on Cognitive Computational Neuroscience, 13-16 September 2019, Berlin, Germany
Paper Title: How the Human Brain Solves the Symbol-Grounding Problem
Manuscript:  Click here to view manuscript
License: Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Authors: Simone ViganĂ², University of Trento, Italy; Valentina Borghesani, University of California San Francisco, United States; Manuela Piazza, University of Trento, Italy
Abstract: Humans construct linguistic meanings by grounding symbols to classes of perceptual objects, actions, or events, yet the brain mechanisms underlying this process are poorly understood. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging and a longitudinal training design, we studied the neural correlates of symbol- grounding in adults who learned to classify objects in categories using words. We found that learning was paired with the development of a bi-directional functional mapping between the neural representations of the objects and of the associated symbols that, after learning, encoded the newly learnt object-name associations. A key node supporting this bi-directional mapping was the hippocampus, which activity encoded the abstract symbol-to-object mapping rule, and was predictive of learning performance. Finally, we also observed concurrent changes in the representational geometries of object features in low-level sensory areas. Thus, the process of grounding a symbol to its meaning entails orchestrated changes in the neural activity of both memory and perceptual systems.