Does comprehension of symbolic gestures and corresponding-in-meaning words make use of motor simulation?


Campione, Giovanna Cristina and De Stefani, Elisa and Innocenti, Alessandro and De Marcoa, Doriana and Gough, Patricia and Buccino, Giovanni and Gentiluccia, Maurizio (2013) Does comprehension of symbolic gestures and corresponding-in-meaning words make use of motor simulation? Behavioural Brain Research, 259. pp. 297-301. ISSN 0166-4328

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Abstract

The present study aimed at determining whether or not the comprehension of symbolic gestures, and corresponding-in-meaning words, makes use of cortical circuits involved in movement execution control. Participants were presented with videos of an actress producing meaningful or meaningless gestures, pronouncing corresponding-in-meaning words or pseudo-words; they were required to judge whether the signal was meaningful or meaningless. Single pulse TMS was applied to forearm primary motor cortex area 150–200 ms after the point when the stimulus meaning could be understood. MEPs were significantly greater when processing meaningless signals as compared to a baseline condition presenting a still-and-silent actress. In contrast, this was not the case for meaningful signals whose motor activation did not differ from that for the baseline stimulus. MEPs were significantly greater for meaningless than meaningful signals and no significant difference was found between gesture and speech. On the basis of these results, we hypothesized that the observation-of/listening-to meaningless signals recruits motor areas. In contrast, this did not occur when the signals were meaningful. Overall, the data suggest that the processes related to comprehension of symbolic gestures and communicative words do not involve primary motor area and probably use brain areas involved in semantics.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The published version of this article is available at DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.11.025 .
Keywords: Meaningful intransitive gesture; Meaningless gesture; Communicative word; Pseudo-word; Transcranial magnetic stimulation; TMS; Motor evoked potentials; MEPs; Primary motor cortex; M1; Embodied theory of language comprehension;
Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Psychology
Item ID: 6756
Identification Number: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.11.025
Depositing User: Patricia Gough
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2016 10:40
Journal or Publication Title: Behavioural Brain Research
Publisher: Elsevier
Refereed: Yes
URI:

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