Nouns and verbs: Neurological correlates of linguistic processing

Stefano F. Cappa, Daniela Perani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper provides a comprehensive review of neuropsychological, neurophysiological and neuroimaging studies dealing with the neural correlates of noun and verb processing. There is considerable clinical evidence from patient studies indicating the existence of a double dissociation between noun and verb processing. This dissociation appears to be reflected in differences in the site of brain damage. Patients with a selective verb impairment usually have lesion centred on the fronto-parietal areas, while isolated noun impairments are observed in patients with damage limited to the temporal lobe. Imaging studies in normal subjects have provided further information, indicating that, while the left temporal neocortex plays a crucial role in all tasks involving lexical-semantic processing, additional regions of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex are recruited during the processing of words related to actions. One crucial question is whether the observed neurological correlates are related to conceptual differences (prototypical nouns and verbs being related, respectively, to objects and actions), or to the grammatical distinction between nouns and verbs. The aim of future studies should be to tease apart the contribution of semantic and grammatical differences to the observed neurological dissociation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-83
Number of pages11
JournalItalian Journal of Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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