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Journal Article

A functional role for the motor system in language understanding: Evidence from Theta-Burst Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

MPS-Authors
http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons37865

Willems,  Roel M.
Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California, Berkeley;
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour;
Neurobiology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons23

Casasanto,  Daniel
Neurobiology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour;
Department of Psychology, The New School for Social Research ;

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Supplementary materials Willems.pdf
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Citation

Willems, R. M., Labruna, L., D'Esposito, M., Ivry, R., & Casasanto, D. (2011). A functional role for the motor system in language understanding: Evidence from Theta-Burst Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. Psychological Science, 22, 849 -854. doi:10.1177/0956797611412387.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-BE18-D
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.