Converting Sounds to Meaning With Ventral Semantic Language Networks: Integration of Interdisciplinary Data on Brain Connectivity, Direct Electrical Stimulation and Clinical Disconnection Syndromes

Date Published:

2022 Mar 10


Numerous traditional linguistic theories propose that semantic language pathways convert sounds to meaningful concepts, generating interpretations ranging from simple object descriptions to communicating complex, analytical thinking. Although the dual-stream model of Hickok and Poeppel is widely employed, proposing a dorsal stream, mapping speech sounds to articulatory/phonological networks, and a ventral stream, mapping speech sounds to semantic representations, other language models have been proposed. Indeed, despite seemingly congruent models of semantic language pathways, research outputs from varied specialisms contain only partially congruent data, secondary to the diversity of applied disciplines, ranging from fibre dissection, tract tracing, and functional neuroimaging to neuropsychiatry, stroke neurology, and intraoperative direct electrical stimulation. The current review presents a comprehensive, interdisciplinary synthesis of the ventral, semantic connectivity pathways consisting of the uncinate, middle longitudinal, inferior longitudinal, and inferior fronto-occipital fasciculi, with special reference to areas of controversies or consensus. This is achieved by describing, for each tract, historical concept evolution, terminations, lateralisation, and segmentation models. Clinical implications are presented in three forms: (a) functional considerations derived from normal subject investigations, (b) outputs of direct electrical stimulation during awake brain surgery, and (c) results of disconnection syndromes following disease-related lesioning. The current review unifies interpretation of related specialisms and serves as a framework/thinking model for additional research on language data acquisition and integration.

Last updated on 05/16/2022