When "happy" means "sad": Neuropsychological evidence for the right prefrontal contribution to executive semantic processing

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The contribution of the left inferior prefrontal cortex in semantic processing has been widely investigated in the last decade. Converging evidence from functional imaging studies shows that this region is involved in the "executive" or "controlled" aspects of semantic processing. In this study, we report a single case study of a patient, PW, with damage to the right prefrontal and temporal cortices following stroke. PW showed a problem in executive control of semantic processing, where he could not easily override automatic but irrelevant semantic processing. This case, thus, shows the necessary role of the right inferior prefrontal cortex in executive semantic processing. Compared to tasks previously used in the literature, our tasks placed higher demands on executive semantic processing. We suggest that the right inferior prefrontal cortex is recruited when the demands on executive semantic processing are particularly high.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)896-904
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


  • semantic processing, right hemisphere, prefrontal cortex, selection, executive function