Computational analysis on verbal fluency reveals heterogeneity in subjective language interests and brain structure

Zengaffinen, Francilia; Stahnke, Antje; Furger, Stephan; Wiest, Roland; Dierks, Thomas; Strik, Werner; Morishima, Yosuke (2023). Computational analysis on verbal fluency reveals heterogeneity in subjective language interests and brain structure. Neuroimage: reports, 3(1), p. 100159. Elsevier 10.1016/j.ynirp.2023.100159

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Language is an essential higher cognitive function in humans and is often affected by psychiatric and neurological
disorders. Objective measures like the verbal fluency test are often used to determine language
dysfunction. Recent applications of computational approaches broaden insights into language-related functions.
In addition, individuals diagnosed with a psychiatric or neurological disorder also often report subjective difficulties
in language-related functions. Therefore, we investigated the association between objective and subjective
measures of language functioning, on the one hand, and inter-individual structural variations in language-
related brain areas, on the other hand.
We performed a Latent Semantic analysis (LSA) on a semantic verbal fluency task in 101 healthy adult participants.
To investigate if these objective measures are associated with a subjective one, we examined assessed
subjective natural tendency of interest in language-related activity with a study-specific questionnaire. Lastly, a
voxel-based brain morphometry (VBM) was conducted to reveal associations between objective (LSA) measures
and structural changes in language-related brain areas.
We found a positive correlation between the LSA measure cosine similarity and the subjective interest in
language. Furthermore, we found that higher cosine similarity corresponds to higher gray matter volume in the
right cerebellum. The results suggest that people with higher interests in language access semantic knowledge in
a more organized way exhibited by higher cosine similarity and have larger gray matter volume in the right
cerebellum, when compared to people with lower interests.
In conclusion, we demonstrate that there is inter-individual diverseness of accessing the semantic knowledge
space and that it is associated with subjective language interests as well as structural differences in the right

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Translational Research Center
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Radiology, Neuroradiology and Nuclear Medicine (DRNN) > Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Health Sciences (GHS)

UniBE Contributor:

Zengaffinen, Francilia Sabrina, Stahnke, Antje, Furger, Stephan Niklaus, Wiest, Roland Gerhard Rudi, Dierks, Thomas, Strik, Werner, Morishima, Yosuke


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Francilia Sabrina Zengaffinen

Date Deposited:

19 Oct 2023 15:24

Last Modified:

24 May 2024 14:01

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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