Multiregional cell assemblies, temporal binding and the representation of conceptual knowledge in cortex: A modern theory by a "classical" neurologist, Carl Wernicke

  • Gage N
  • Hickok G
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A contemporary view of conceptual representation in the brain holds that conceptual knowledge is distributed throughout the cerebral cortex, localized to cortical regions involved in their initial processing, and functionally interconnected through synchronized associative processes that are mediated through "convergence zones". The primary goal of the present paper is to point out that Carl Wernicke proposed a theory of how concepts are acquired and represented in cortex which is strikingly similar to contemporary views. Wernicke sketched his ideas on this topic in his earliest writings on aphasia. But his theory is developed most fully in the Grundriss der Psychiatrie (Outlines of Psychiatry), published in 1900 and never translated into English. We describe Wernicke's views on the distributed nature of conceptual knowledge in the brain using select quotes from his early work, and by providing a translation of relevant sections of the Grundriss der Psychiatrie.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Cerebral cortex
  • Conceptual representation
  • Human information storage
  • Learning and memory
  • Neural mechanisms
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Neurology

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  • Nicole M. Gage

  • Gregory Hickok

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