Kicking calculators: Contribution of embodied representations to sentence comprehension

  • Masson M
  • Bub D
  • Warren C
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Evocation of motor representations during sentence comprehension was examined by training subjects to make a hand action in response to a visual cue while listening to a sentence. Sentences referred to manipulable objects that were either related or unrelated to the cued action. Related actions pertained either to the function of the object or to its volumetric properties (e.g., shape). The results demonstrate priming of hand actions even though the sentences referred to non-manual interactions with manipulable objects. When sentences described an attentional interaction (looking at the calculator), only functional actions were primed. Sentences describing a non-manual physical interaction (kicking the calculator) primed volumetric as well as functional actions. We describe how seemingly irrelevant motor representations can play a role in constructing sentence meaning. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Action representations
  • Embodied cognition
  • Sentence comprehension

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  • Michael E.J. Masson

  • Daniel N. Bub

  • Christopher M. Warren

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