Publication details [#1008]

Desai, Rutvik H., Lisa L. Conant, Jeffrey R. Binder, Haeil Park and Mark S. Seide. 2013. A piece of the action: Modulation of sensory-motor regions by action idioms and metaphors. NeuroImage 83 : 862–869. 8 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Amsterdam: Elsevier


Experimental research has already demonstrated how sensory and motor systems inform the conceptual system. What still remains controversial is whether or not factors such as context and task demands modulate the coupling between the sensory-motor system and the conceptual system. This paper presents the results of an fMRI study intended to test the context sensitivity of this coupling by employing action verbs in three different types of sentences that involve: a) literal action, b) apt but non-idiomatic action metaphors, and c) action idioms. Findings reveal the activation of sensory-motor areas in the case of literal and metaphorical action language, but not for idiomatic sentences. The activation was observed to gradually increase from abstract to idiomatic to metaphoric to literal. Overall, the study proves the context sensitive nature of semantic processing.