Where is the action? Action sentence processing in Parkinson's disease

Department of Neurology, Medical College of Wisconsin. Electronic address: .
Neuropsychologia (Impact Factor: 3.45). 04/2013; 51(8). DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013.04.008
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT According to an influential view of conceptual representation, action concepts are understood through motoric simulations, involving motor networks of the brain. A stronger version of this embodied account suggests that even figurative uses of action words (e.g., grasping the concept) are understood through motoric simulations. We investigated these claims by assessing whether Parkinson's disease (PD), a disorder affecting the motor system, is associated with selective deficits in comprehending action-related sentences. Twenty PD patients and 21 age-matched controls performed a sentence comprehension task, where sentences belonged to one of four conditions: literal action, non-idiomatic metaphoric action, idiomatic action, and abstract. The same verbs (referring to hand/arm actions) were used in the three action-related conditions. Patients, but not controls, were slower to respond to literal and idiomatic action than to abstract sentences. These results indicate that sensory-motor systems play a functional role in semantic processing, including processing of figurative action language.

Download full-text


Available from: Leonardo Fernandino, Jul 16, 2015
  • Source
    • "This embodiment of language in action has been reported in healthy elderly adults (Dijkstra et al., 2004), as well as in patients with AD (De Scalzi et al., 2014) since they rely on the necessary simulation of the motor components involved in language to understand it. It may also explain how motor impairments in PD are associated with altered language comprehension of literal and symbolic action related/based sentences (Fernandino et al., 2013). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Embodiment is revolutionizing the way we consider cognition by incorporating the influence of our body and of the current context within cognitive processing. A growing number of studies which support this view of cognition in young adults stands in stark contrast with the lack of evidence in favor of this view in the field of normal aging and neurocognitive disorders. Nonetheless, the validation of embodiment assumptions on the whole spectrum of cognition is a mandatory step in order for embodied cognition theories to become theories of human cognition. More pragmatically, aging populations represent a perfect target to test embodied cognition theories due to concomitant changes in sensory, motor and cognitive functioning that occur in aging, since these theories predict direct interactions between them. Finally, the new perspectives on cognition provided by these theories might also open new research avenues and new clinical applications in the field of aging. The present article aims at showing the value and interest to explore embodiment in normal and abnormal aging as well as introducing some potential theoretical and clinical applications.
    Frontiers in Psychology 04/2015; 6:463. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00463 · 2.80 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "The participants were asked to indicate as quickly and as accurately as possible whether the target was a word or not by pressing one of two response buttons. The participants were given four seconds to respond (which differs from Fernandino et al. (2013b), who provided unlimited time for response), after which the next trial started and a missing response was recorded. The prime was the same as the target word/pseudoword in capital letters for half of the stimuli (identity prime), and a consonant string also in capital letters for the other half (consonant string prime) as control. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The relationship between the brain's conceptual or semantic and sensory-motor systems remains controversial. Here, we tested manual and conceptual abilities of 41 chronic stroke patients in order to examine their relationship. Manual abilities were assed through a reaching task using an exoskeleton robot. Semantic abilities were assessed with implicit as well as explicit semantic tasks, for both verbs and nouns. The results show that that the degree of selective impairment for action word processing was predicted by the degree of impairment in reaching performance. Moreover, the implicit semantic measures showed a correlation with a global reaching parameter, while the explicit semantic similarity judgment task predicted performance in action initiation. These results indicate that action concepts are dynamically grounded through motoric simulations, and that more details are simulated for more explicit semantic tasks. This is evidence for a close and causal relationship between sensory-motor and conceptual systems of the brain. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    Neuropsychologia 04/2015; 71. DOI:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.04.006 · 3.45 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Hence the possibility of brief access to motor systems for action verbs even in the idiomatic context cannot be ruled out. Indeed, Fernandino et al. (2013) found small but significant impairment for action idioms in Parkinson's patients relative to abstract sentences. Nonetheless, by showing clear modulation of activation for different types of sentences involving the same action verbs, the results demonstrate the flexible and contextsensitive nature of the semantic system. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The idea that the conceptual system draws on sensory and motor systems has received considerable experimental support in recent years. Whether the tight coupling between sensory-motor and conceptual systems is modulated by factors such as context or task demands is a matter of controversy. Here, we tested the context sensitivity of this coupling by using action verbs in three different types of sentences in an fMRI study: literal action, apt but non-idiomatic action metaphors, and action idioms. Abstract sentences served as a baseline. The result showed involvement of sensory-motor areas for literal and metaphoric action sentences, but not for idiomatic ones. A trend of increasing sensory-motor activation from abstract to idiomatic to metaphoric to literal sentences was seen. These results support a gradual abstraction process whereby the reliance on sensory-motor systems is reduced as the abstractness of meaning as well as conventionalization is increased, highlighting the context sensitive nature of semantic processing.
    NeuroImage 07/2013; 83. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.07.044 · 6.36 Impact Factor
Show more