Concurrent Word Generation and Motor Performance: Further Evidence for Language-Motor Interaction
by Amy D. Rodriguez, Matthew L. McCabe, Joe R. Nocera, Jamie Reilly
Embodied/modality-specific theories of semantic memory propose that sensorimotor representations play an important role in perception and action. A large body of evidence supports the notion that concepts involving human motor action (i.e., semantic-motor representations) are processed in both language and motor regions of the brain. However, most studies have focused on perceptual tasks, leaving unanswered questions about language-motor interaction during production tasks. Thus, we investigated the effects of shared semantic-motor representations on concurrent language and motor production tasks in healthy young adults, manipulating the semantic task (motor-related vs. nonmotor-related words) and the motor task (i.e., standing still and finger-tapping). In Experiment 1 (n = 20), we demonstrated that motor-related word generation was sufficient to affect postural control. In Experiment 2 (n = 40), we demonstrated that motor-related word generation was sufficient to facilitate word generation and finger tapping. We conclude that engaging semantic-motor representations can have a reciprocal influence on motor and language production. Our study provides additional support for functional language-motor interaction, as well as embodied/modality-specific theories.
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