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Determinants of ignition times: Topographies of cell assemblies and the activation delays they imply
Behavioral & Brain Sciences, 27(2), 308-311
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The cell assembly model of language posits that words are laid down in the cortex by discrete sets of neurons distributed over specific parts of the brain. The strong internal links of these "word webs" may not only bind articulatory and acoustic knowledge of a lexical item, they may also link word and meaning; for example, by connecting neuron populations related to word forms to those of actions and perceptions to which the words refer. Therefore, the cortical activation elicited by words should reflect aspects of word meaning, a postulate that has received strong support from recent work using neurophysiological and metabolic imaging. Segalowitz & Lane make the point that this neurobiological model can also be used to predict reaction times in behavioral experiments, using the behavioral distinction between content and function words as an example. We acclaim their view, but warn that response times might be related to different mechanisms at the neuronal level, including the cortical distribution and internal connectivity of cell assemblies along with their mutual connections in the grammatical (syntactic and semantic) network.