1 Section for Anthropology and Ethnography, Faculty of Humanities, Aarhus University, Aarhus University2 Center for Functionally Integrative Neuroscience, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aarhus University, Aarhus University3 School of Communication and Culture - Center for Semiotics, School of Communication and Culture, Arts, Aarhus University4 School of Culture and Society - Department of Anthropology, School of Culture and Society, Arts, Aarhus University5 School of Communication and Culture - Center for Semiotics, School of Communication and Culture, Arts, Aarhus University6 School of Culture and Society - Department of Anthropology, School of Culture and Society, Arts, Aarhus University
Human communicational interaction can be mediated by a host of expressive means from words in a natural language to gestures and material symbols. Given the proper contextual setting even an everyday object can gain a mediating function in a communicational situation. In this study we used event-related fMRI to study the brain activity caused by everyday material objects when they are perceived as signals. We found that comprehension of material signals activates bilaterally areas of the ventral stream and pars triangularis of the inferior frontal cortex, that is, areas traditionally associated with verbal language and semantics. In addition, we found that right-hemisphere inferior frontal cortex is recruited as a function of the increasing unconventionality of communicative objects. Together these findings support an interpretation of the traditional language areas as playing a more general role across modalities in relation to communicational mediation of social semantic meaning.
Brain and Language, 2009, Vol 108, Issue 3, p. 159-166