Connectivity constraints on cortical reorganization of neural circuits involved in object naming

Costanza Papagno, Marcello Gallucci, Alessandra Casarotti, Antonella Castellano, Andrea Falini, Enrica Fava, Carlo Giussani, Giorgio Carrabba, Lorenzo Bello, Alfonso Caramazza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The brain's plasticity in response to sensory deprivation and other perturbations is well established. While the functional properties of the reorganized areas are under vigorous investigation, the factors that constrain cortical reorganization remain poorly understood. One factor constraining such reorganization may be long-distance subcortical connectivity between relevant cortical regions-reorganization attempts to preserve the functionality of subcortical connections. Here we provide human neurophysiological evidence for the role of the subcortical connections in shaping cortical reorganization of the networks involved in object naming following perturbation of normal function. We used direct electrical stimulation (DES) during surgical removal of gliomas to identify the sites that are involved in naming different categories of objects. The sites that were selectively inhibited in naming either living or non-living objects were displaced relative to those observed with other subject populations, possibly reflecting cortical reorganization due to slowly evolving brain damage. Subcortical DES applied to the white matter underlying these regions also led to category-specific naming deficits. The existence of these subcortical fiber pathways was confirmed using diffusion tensor tractography. These results constitute the first neurophysiological evidence for the critical role of subcortical pathways as part of the neural circuits that are involved in object naming; they also highlight the importance of subcortical connectivity in shaping cortical reorganization following perturbations of normal function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1306-1313
Number of pages8
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2011


  • Awake surgery
  • Direct electrical stimulation
  • Object naming
  • Tractography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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