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How the context matters. Literal and figurative meaning in the embodied language paradigm.

Cuccio V, Ambrosecchia M, Ferri F, Carapezza M, Lo Piparo F, Fogassi L, Gallese V - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that embodied simulation occurring during linguistic processing is contextually modulated to the extent that the same sentence, depending on the context of utterance, leads to the activation of different effector-specific brain motor areas.In order to test this hypothesis, we asked subjects to give a motor response with the hand or the foot to the presentation of ambiguous idioms containing action-related words when these are preceded by context sentences.The results directly support our hypothesis only in relation to the comprehension of hand-related action sentences.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Neuroscience, University of Parma, Parma, Italy; Department of Humanities, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.

ABSTRACT
The involvement of the sensorimotor system in language understanding has been widely demonstrated. However, the role of context in these studies has only recently started to be addressed. Though words are bearers of a semantic potential, meaning is the product of a pragmatic process. It needs to be situated in a context to be disambiguated. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that embodied simulation occurring during linguistic processing is contextually modulated to the extent that the same sentence, depending on the context of utterance, leads to the activation of different effector-specific brain motor areas. In order to test this hypothesis, we asked subjects to give a motor response with the hand or the foot to the presentation of ambiguous idioms containing action-related words when these are preceded by context sentences. The results directly support our hypothesis only in relation to the comprehension of hand-related action sentences.

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Imageability questionnaire.Mean ratings of participants for hand/arm and leg/foot target-sentences. Vertical bars on histograms indicate standard error of mean. The asterisk indicates a statistical significance between the means.
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pone-0115381-g004: Imageability questionnaire.Mean ratings of participants for hand/arm and leg/foot target-sentences. Vertical bars on histograms indicate standard error of mean. The asterisk indicates a statistical significance between the means.

Mentions: Ratings of participants were submitted to the same linear mixed-models used in Experiment 1 and 2. Interpretation of meaning (Idiomatic vs. Literal) and Effector of action (Hand vs. Foot) were fixed factors, whereas Items were random factors. In line with the results from Experiment 1 and 3, the analysis showed the main effect of Interpretation of meaning (F1, 15.9 = 19.38; p<0.01), as literal sentences were easier to imagine than idiomatic sentences (mean = 75.2/100 SE = 2.92 vs mean  = 57/100, SE = 2.93). However, neither the main effect of Effector (F1, 15.9 = 0.32 p = 0.58) nor the interaction between Meaning and Effector were significant (F1, 15.9 = 0.45 p = 0.51; see fig 4). These results clearly suggest that the degree of imageability alone could not fully explain the facilitation effect for the LH condition (faster RTs) compared to the IF and LF conditions observed in Experiment 1 (hand responses), but absent in Experiment 3 (foot responses).


How the context matters. Literal and figurative meaning in the embodied language paradigm.

Cuccio V, Ambrosecchia M, Ferri F, Carapezza M, Lo Piparo F, Fogassi L, Gallese V - PLoS ONE (2014)

Imageability questionnaire.Mean ratings of participants for hand/arm and leg/foot target-sentences. Vertical bars on histograms indicate standard error of mean. The asterisk indicates a statistical significance between the means.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4274021&req=5

pone-0115381-g004: Imageability questionnaire.Mean ratings of participants for hand/arm and leg/foot target-sentences. Vertical bars on histograms indicate standard error of mean. The asterisk indicates a statistical significance between the means.
Mentions: Ratings of participants were submitted to the same linear mixed-models used in Experiment 1 and 2. Interpretation of meaning (Idiomatic vs. Literal) and Effector of action (Hand vs. Foot) were fixed factors, whereas Items were random factors. In line with the results from Experiment 1 and 3, the analysis showed the main effect of Interpretation of meaning (F1, 15.9 = 19.38; p<0.01), as literal sentences were easier to imagine than idiomatic sentences (mean = 75.2/100 SE = 2.92 vs mean  = 57/100, SE = 2.93). However, neither the main effect of Effector (F1, 15.9 = 0.32 p = 0.58) nor the interaction between Meaning and Effector were significant (F1, 15.9 = 0.45 p = 0.51; see fig 4). These results clearly suggest that the degree of imageability alone could not fully explain the facilitation effect for the LH condition (faster RTs) compared to the IF and LF conditions observed in Experiment 1 (hand responses), but absent in Experiment 3 (foot responses).

Bottom Line: The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that embodied simulation occurring during linguistic processing is contextually modulated to the extent that the same sentence, depending on the context of utterance, leads to the activation of different effector-specific brain motor areas.In order to test this hypothesis, we asked subjects to give a motor response with the hand or the foot to the presentation of ambiguous idioms containing action-related words when these are preceded by context sentences.The results directly support our hypothesis only in relation to the comprehension of hand-related action sentences.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Neuroscience, University of Parma, Parma, Italy; Department of Humanities, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.

ABSTRACT
The involvement of the sensorimotor system in language understanding has been widely demonstrated. However, the role of context in these studies has only recently started to be addressed. Though words are bearers of a semantic potential, meaning is the product of a pragmatic process. It needs to be situated in a context to be disambiguated. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that embodied simulation occurring during linguistic processing is contextually modulated to the extent that the same sentence, depending on the context of utterance, leads to the activation of different effector-specific brain motor areas. In order to test this hypothesis, we asked subjects to give a motor response with the hand or the foot to the presentation of ambiguous idioms containing action-related words when these are preceded by context sentences. The results directly support our hypothesis only in relation to the comprehension of hand-related action sentences.

Show MeSH