Dissociable electrophysiological correlates of semantic access of motor and non-motor concepts

Rodika Sokoliuk, Sara Calzolari, Damian Cruse
2019 Scientific Reports  
The notion of semantic embodiment posits that concepts are represented in the same neural sensorimotor systems that were involved in their acquisition. However, evidence in support of embodied semantics - in particular the hypothesised contribution of motor and premotor cortex to the representation of action concepts - is varied. Here, we tested the hypothesis that, consistent with semantic embodiment, sensorimotor cortices will rapidly become active while healthy participants access the
more » ... of visually-presented motor and non-motor action verbs. Event-related potentials revealed early differential processing of motor and non-motor verbs (164-203 ms) within distinct regions of cortex likely reflecting rapid cortical activation of differentially distributed semantic representations. However, we found no evidence for a specific role of sensorimotor cortices in supporting these representations. Moreover, we observed a later modulation of the alpha band (8-12 Hz) from 555-785 ms over central electrodes, with estimated generators within the left superior parietal lobule, which may reflect post-lexical activation of the object-directed features of the motor action concepts. In conclusion, we find no evidence for a specific role of sensorimotor cortices when healthy participants judge the meaning of visually-presented action verbs. However, the relative contribution of sensorimotor cortices to action comprehension may vary as a function of task goals.
doi:10.1038/s41598-019-47835-9 pmid:31391537 pmcid:PMC6686022 fatcat:upn5jnfrsfhchdiggbj3kkjkva