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Can we separate semantic representations from computations? A commentary on Calzavarini (2023)
HAUK, O., Magnabosco, F., Law, R.
Language, Cognition and Neuroscience,
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Calzavarini criticizes theories of semantic embodiment because sensorimotor areas have been shown to be supramodal. This challenges our understanding of "modality-specific." However, we believe this does not fundamentally undermine current neuroscientific approaches to semantics. Instead, we point out the difficulty of separating semantic representations from processes and their susceptibility to task demands. We stress the importance of studying semantic representations and processes in context, rather than focusing solely on individual words. The integration of semantic features from different concrete and abstract domains is the norm rather than the exception in natural language processing. Exploring these processes in naturalistic experimental paradigms has only recently begun. Additionally, the relative contributions of sensorimotor areas, hubs, and convergence zones depend on their dynamic connectivity. Thus, we emphasize the challenges and opportunities of new method developments for the neuroscience of semantics.