Electrophysiological and brain imaging studies show a somatotopic activation of the premotor cortex while subjects process action verbs. This somatotopic motor activation has been taken as an indication that the meaning of action verbs is embedded in motor representations. However, discrepancies in the literature led to the alternative hypothesis that motor representations are activated during the course of a mental imagery process emerging only after the meaning of the action has been accessed. In order to address this issue, we asked participants to decide whether a visually presented verb was concrete or abstract by pressing a button or a pedal (primary task) and then to provide a distinct vocal response to low and high sounds played soon after the verb display (secondary task). Manipulations of the visual display (lower vs. uppercase), verb imageability (concrete vs. abstract), verb meaning (hand vs. foot-related), and response effector (hand vs. foot) allowed us to trace the perceptual, semantic and response stages of verb processing. We capitalized on the psychological refractory period (PRP), which implies that the initiation of the secondary task should be delayed only by those factors that slow down the central decision process in the primary task. In line with this prediction, our results showed that the time cost resulting from the processing of abstract verbs, when compared to concrete verbs, was still observed in the subsequent response to the sounds, whereas the overall advantage of hand over foot responses did not influence sound judgments. Crucially, we also observed a verb-effector compatibility effect (i.e., foot-related verbs are responded faster with the foot and hand-related verbs with the hand) that contaminated the performance of the secondary task, providing clear evidence that motor interference from verb meaning occurred during the central decision stage. These results cannot be explained by a mental imagery process that would deploy only during the execution of the response to verb judgments. They rather indicate that the motor activation induced by action verbs accompanies the lexico-semantic processes leading to response selection.

Contribution of motor representations to action verb processing / M., Andres; Finocchiaro, Chiara; Buiatti, Marco; Piazza, Manuela. - In: COGNITION. - ISSN 0010-0277. - STAMPA. - 134:(2015), pp. 174-184. [10.1016/j.cognition.2014.10.004]

Contribution of motor representations to action verb processing

Finocchiaro, Chiara;Buiatti, Marco;Piazza, Manuela
2015-01-01

Abstract

Electrophysiological and brain imaging studies show a somatotopic activation of the premotor cortex while subjects process action verbs. This somatotopic motor activation has been taken as an indication that the meaning of action verbs is embedded in motor representations. However, discrepancies in the literature led to the alternative hypothesis that motor representations are activated during the course of a mental imagery process emerging only after the meaning of the action has been accessed. In order to address this issue, we asked participants to decide whether a visually presented verb was concrete or abstract by pressing a button or a pedal (primary task) and then to provide a distinct vocal response to low and high sounds played soon after the verb display (secondary task). Manipulations of the visual display (lower vs. uppercase), verb imageability (concrete vs. abstract), verb meaning (hand vs. foot-related), and response effector (hand vs. foot) allowed us to trace the perceptual, semantic and response stages of verb processing. We capitalized on the psychological refractory period (PRP), which implies that the initiation of the secondary task should be delayed only by those factors that slow down the central decision process in the primary task. In line with this prediction, our results showed that the time cost resulting from the processing of abstract verbs, when compared to concrete verbs, was still observed in the subsequent response to the sounds, whereas the overall advantage of hand over foot responses did not influence sound judgments. Crucially, we also observed a verb-effector compatibility effect (i.e., foot-related verbs are responded faster with the foot and hand-related verbs with the hand) that contaminated the performance of the secondary task, providing clear evidence that motor interference from verb meaning occurred during the central decision stage. These results cannot be explained by a mental imagery process that would deploy only during the execution of the response to verb judgments. They rather indicate that the motor activation induced by action verbs accompanies the lexico-semantic processes leading to response selection.
M., Andres; Finocchiaro, Chiara; Buiatti, Marco; Piazza, Manuela
Contribution of motor representations to action verb processing / M., Andres; Finocchiaro, Chiara; Buiatti, Marco; Piazza, Manuela. - In: COGNITION. - ISSN 0010-0277. - STAMPA. - 134:(2015), pp. 174-184. [10.1016/j.cognition.2014.10.004]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11572/101384
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