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While current dual-steam neurocognitive models of language function have coalesced around the view that distinct neuroanatomical networks subserve semantic and phonological processing, respectively, the specific white matter components of these networks remain a matter of debate. To inform this debate, we investigated relationships between structural white matter connectivity and word production in a cross-sectional study of 42 participants with aphasia due to unilateral left hemisphere stroke. Specifically, we reconstructed a local connectome matrix for each participant from diffusion spectrum imaging data and regressed these matrices on indices of semantic and phonological ability derived from their responses to a picture-naming test and a computational model of word production. These connectometry analyses indicated that both dorsally located (arcuate fasciculus) and ventrally located (inferior frontal-occipital, uncinate, and middle longitudinal fasciculi) tracts were associated with semantic ability, while associations with phonological ability were more dorsally situated, including the arcuate and middle longitudinal fasciculi. Associations with limbic pathways including the posterior cingulum bundle and the fornix were also found. All analyses controlled for total lesion volume and all results showing positive associations obtained false discovery rates < 0.05. These results challenge dual-stream accounts that deny a role for the arcuate fasciculus in semantic processing, and for ventral-stream pathways in language production. They also illuminate limbic contributions to both semantic and phonological processing for word production.
View details for DOI 10.1093/brain/awaa193
View details for PubMedID 32705146