Repository logo

Multiple dimensions underlying the functional organization of the language network.

Published version



Change log


Hodgson, Victoria J 
Lambon Ralph, Matthew A 
Jackson, Rebecca L 


Understanding the different neural networks that support human language is an ongoing challenge for cognitive neuroscience. Which divisions are capable of distinguishing the functional significance of regions across the language network? A key separation between semantic cognition and phonological processing was highlighted in early meta-analyses, yet these seminal works did not formally test this proposition. Moreover, organization by domain is not the only possibility. Regions may be organized by the type of process performed, as in the separation between representation and control processes proposed within the Controlled Semantic Cognition framework. The importance of these factors was assessed in a series of activation likelihood estimation meta-analyses that investigated which regions of the language network are consistently recruited for semantic and phonological domains, and for representation and control processes. Whilst semantic and phonological processing consistently recruit many overlapping regions, they can be dissociated (by differential involvement of bilateral anterior temporal lobes, precentral gyrus and superior temporal gyri) only when using both formal analysis methods and sufficient data. Both semantic and phonological regions are further dissociable into control and representation regions, highlighting this as an additional, distinct dimension on which the language network is functionally organized. Furthermore, some of these control regions overlap with multiple-demand network regions critical for control beyond the language domain, suggesting the relative level of domain-specificity is also informative. Multiple, distinct dimensions are critical to understand the role of language regions. Here we present a proposal as to the core principles underpinning the functional organization of the language network.



Control, Language, Meta-analysis, Multiple Demand Network, Phonology, Semantics, Adult, Brain, Female, Humans, Language, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Nerve Net, Semantics, Young Adult

Journal Title


Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Elsevier BV
Medical Research Council (MR/R023883/1)
European Research Council (670428)
MRC (unknown)
British Academy (pf170068)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00005/18)