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      Viewing photos and reading nouns of natural graspable objects similarly modulate motor responses

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          It is well known that the observation of graspable objects recruits the same motor representations involved in their actual manipulation. Recent evidence suggests that the presentation of nouns referring to graspable objects may exert similar effects. So far, however, it is not clear to what extent the modulation of the motor system during object observation overlaps with that related to noun processing. To address this issue, 2 behavioral experiments were carried out using a go-no go paradigm. Healthy participants were presented with photos and nouns of graspable and non-graspable natural objects. Also scrambled images and pseudowords obtained from the original stimuli were used. At a go-signal onset (150 ms after stimulus presentation) participants had to press a key when the stimulus referred to a real object, using their right (Experiment 1) or left (Experiment 2) hand, and refrain from responding when a scrambled image or a pseudoword was presented. Slower responses were found for both photos and nouns of graspable objects as compared to non-graspable objects, independent of the responding hand. These findings suggest that processing seen graspable objects and written nouns referring to graspable objects similarly modulates the motor system.

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          Most cited references 70

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          The assessment and analysis of handedness: The Edinburgh inventory

           R.C. Oldfield (1971)
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            Perceptual symbol systems.

            Prior to the twentieth century, theories of knowledge were inherently perceptual. Since then, developments in logic, statistics, and programming languages have inspired amodal theories that rest on principles fundamentally different from those underlying perception. In addition, perceptual approaches have become widely viewed as untenable because they are assumed to implement recording systems, not conceptual systems. A perceptual theory of knowledge is developed here in the context of current cognitive science and neuroscience. During perceptual experience, association areas in the brain capture bottom-up patterns of activation in sensory-motor areas. Later, in a top-down manner, association areas partially reactivate sensory-motor areas to implement perceptual symbols. The storage and reactivation of perceptual symbols operates at the level of perceptual components--not at the level of holistic perceptual experiences. Through the use of selective attention, schematic representations of perceptual components are extracted from experience and stored in memory (e.g., individual memories of green, purr, hot). As memories of the same component become organized around a common frame, they implement a simulator that produces limitless simulations of the component (e.g., simulations of purr). Not only do such simulators develop for aspects of sensory experience, they also develop for aspects of proprioception (e.g., lift, run) and introspection (e.g., compare, memory, happy, hungry). Once established, these simulators implement a basic conceptual system that represents types, supports categorization, and produces categorical inferences. These simulators further support productivity, propositions, and abstract concepts, thereby implementing a fully functional conceptual system. Productivity results from integrating simulators combinatorially and recursively to produce complex simulations. Propositions result from binding simulators to perceived individuals to represent type-token relations. Abstract concepts are grounded in complex simulations of combined physical and introspective events. Thus, a perceptual theory of knowledge can implement a fully functional conceptual system while avoiding problems associated with amodal symbol systems. Implications for cognition, neuroscience, evolution, development, and artificial intelligence are explored.
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              The Brain's concepts: the role of the Sensory-motor system in conceptual knowledge.

              Concepts are the elementary units of reason and linguistic meaning. They are conventional and relatively stable. As such, they must somehow be the result of neural activity in the brain. The questions are: Where? and How? A common philosophical position is that all concepts-even concepts about action and perception-are symbolic and abstract, and therefore must be implemented outside the brain's sensory-motor system. We will argue against this position using (1) neuroscientific evidence; (2) results from neural computation; and (3) results about the nature of concepts from cognitive linguistics. We will propose that the sensory-motor system has the right kind of structure to characterise both sensory-motor and more abstract concepts. Central to this picture are the neural theory of language and the theory of cogs, according to which, brain structures in the sensory-motor regions are exploited to characterise the so-called "abstract" concepts that constitute the meanings of grammatical constructions and general inference patterns.

                Author and article information

                Front Hum Neurosci
                Front Hum Neurosci
                Front. Hum. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                04 December 2014
                : 8
                1Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Sezione di Fisiologia, Università di Parma Parma, Italy
                2Dipartimento di Psicologia, University Milano Bicocca Milano, Italy
                3IRCCS Neuromed Pozzilli, Italy
                4Dipartimento di Scienze Mediche e Chirurgiche, Università “Magna Graecia” di Catanzaro Germaneto, Italy
                Author notes

                Edited by: Anna M. Borghi, University of Bologna and Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, Italy

                Reviewed by: Andriy Myachykov, Northumbria University, UK; Joshua P. Salmon, Cognitive Health and Recovery Research Laboratory, Canada

                *Correspondence: Giovanni Buccino, Dipartimento di Scienze Mediche e Chirurgiche, Università “Magna Graecia” di Catanzaro, Viale Salvatore Venuta, 88100, Germaneto, Italy e-mail: buccino@

                This article was submitted to the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

                Copyright © 2014 Marino, Sirianni, Volta, Magliocco, Silipo, Quattrone and Buccino.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 73, Pages: 10, Words: 6469
                Original Research Article


                motor responses, embodiment, affordances, canonical neurons, language processing


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