Multivariate neuroimaging studies indicate that the brain represents word and object concepts in a format that readily generalises across stimuli. Here we investigated whether this was true for neural representations of events described using sentences. Participants viewed sentences describing four events in different ways. Multivariate classifiers were trained to discriminate the four events using a subset of sentences, allowing us to test generalisation to novel sentences. We found that neural patterns in a left-lateralised network of frontal, temporal and parietal regions discriminated events in a way that generalised successfully over changes in the syntactic and lexical properties of the sentences used to describe them. In contrast, decoding in visual areas was sentence-specific and failed to generalise to novel sentences. In the reverse analysis, we tested for decoding of syntactic and lexical form, independent of the event being described. Regions displaying this coding were limited and largely fell outside the canonical semantic network. Our results indicate that a distributed neural network represents the meaning of event sentences in a way that is robust to changes in their structure and form. They suggest that the semantic system disregards the surface properties of stimuli in order to represent their underlying conceptual significance. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
- Downloaded 108 times
- Download rankings, all-time:
- Site-wide: 114,747
- In neuroscience: 17,965
- Year to date:
- Site-wide: 59,975
- Since beginning of last month:
- Site-wide: 57,453
Downloads over time
Distribution of downloads per paper, site-wide
- 27 Nov 2020: The website and API now include results pulled from medRxiv as well as bioRxiv.
- 18 Dec 2019: We're pleased to announce PanLingua, a new tool that enables you to search for machine-translated bioRxiv preprints using more than 100 different languages.
- 21 May 2019: PLOS Biology has published a community page about Rxivist.org and its design.
- 10 May 2019: The paper analyzing the Rxivist dataset has been published at eLife.
- 1 Mar 2019: We now have summary statistics about bioRxiv downloads and submissions.
- 8 Feb 2019: Data from Altmetric is now available on the Rxivist details page for every preprint. Look for the "donut" under the download metrics.
- 30 Jan 2019: preLights has featured the Rxivist preprint and written about our findings.
- 22 Jan 2019: Nature just published an article about Rxivist and our data.
- 13 Jan 2019: The Rxivist preprint is live!