The neural representation of abstract concepts is a current matter of debate. While social concepts have been associated to superior anterior temporal lobe (sATL), the neural correlates of quantity-related concepts have seldom been investigated. The right intraparietal sulcus (IPS) is known to be involved in the processing of numerical information and of quantifiers. In the present study, we investigated the causal role of right sATL and right IPS in representing social and quantity-related concepts, using a state-dependent transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)-priming paradigm. We modulated the neural activation by priming to a category label (either SOCIAL or QUANTITY), before applying TMS and presenting the target (i.e., an exemplar of one of the two abstract classes). When the target word belonged to the quantity category, TMS applied over the IPS (but not sATL) abolished the expected priming effect by speeding up reaction times (RTs) in incongruent trials. For the social category, both IPS and sATL stimulation abolished the priming effect, by reducing RTs in incongruent trials. Our results suggest a specialization of distinct brain areas in processing different classes of abstract concepts. The right IPS contains neuronal representations tuned to quantity-related concepts, in line with its well-known role in numerical and magnitude representation. Social concepts, in contrast, are represented in both the right sATL and the right IPS, known to be involved in social cognition and person-related knowledge.
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