A functional role for the motor system in language understanding: evidence from theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Citation:
Willems, RM, Labruna L, D’Esposito, Ivry R, Casasanto D.  2011.  A functional role for the motor system in language understanding: evidence from theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation., 2011 Jul 1. Psychological science. 22:849-54.

Abstract:

Does language comprehension depend, in part, on neural systems for action? In previous studies, motor areas of the brain were activated when people read or listened to action verbs, but it remains unclear whether such activation is functionally relevant for comprehension. In the experiments reported here, we used off-line theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation to investigate whether a causal relationship exists between activity in premotor cortex and action-language understanding. Right-handed participants completed a lexical decision task, in which they read verbs describing manual actions typically performed with the dominant hand (e.g., "to throw," "to write") and verbs describing nonmanual actions (e.g., "to earn," "to wander"). Responses to manual-action verbs (but not to nonmanual-action verbs) were faster after stimulation of the hand area in left premotor cortex than after stimulation of the hand area in right premotor cortex. These results suggest that premotor cortex has a functional role in action-language understanding.

Notes:

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