According to embodied and grounded theories, concepts are grounded in sensorimotor systems. The majority of evidence supporting these views concerns concepts referring to objects or actions, while evidence on abstract concepts is more scarce. Explaining how abstract concepts such as "freedom" are represented would thus be pivotal for grounded theories. According to some recent proposals, abstract concepts are grounded in both sensorimotor and linguistic experience, thus they activate the mouth motor system more than concrete concepts. Two experiments are reported, aimed at verifying whether abstract, concrete and emotional words activate the mouth and the hand effectors. In both experiments participants performed first a lexical decision, then a recognition task. In Experiment 1 participants responded by pressing a button either with the mouth or with the hand, in Experiment 2 responses were given with the foot, while a button held either in the mouth or in the hand was used to respond to catch-trials. Abstract words were slower to process in both tasks (concreteness effect). Across the tasks and experiments, emotional concepts had instead a fluctuating pattern, different from those of both concrete and abstract concepts, suggesting that they cannot be considered as a subset of abstract concepts. The interaction between type of concept (abstract, concrete and emotional) and effector (mouth, hand) was not significant in the lexical decision task, likely because it emerged only with tasks implying a deeper processing level. It reached significance, instead, in the recognition tasks. In both experiments abstract concepts were facilitated in the mouth condition compared to the hand condition, supporting our main prediction. Emotional concepts instead had a more variable pattern. Overall, our findings indicate that various kinds of concepts differently activate the mouth and hand effectors, but they also suggest that concepts activate effectors in a flexible and task-dependent way.

Abstract, emotional and concrete concepts and the activation of mouth-hand effectors

Mazzuca, Claudia
;
Lugli, Luisa;Benassi, Mariagrazia;Nicoletti, Roberto;
2018

Abstract

According to embodied and grounded theories, concepts are grounded in sensorimotor systems. The majority of evidence supporting these views concerns concepts referring to objects or actions, while evidence on abstract concepts is more scarce. Explaining how abstract concepts such as "freedom" are represented would thus be pivotal for grounded theories. According to some recent proposals, abstract concepts are grounded in both sensorimotor and linguistic experience, thus they activate the mouth motor system more than concrete concepts. Two experiments are reported, aimed at verifying whether abstract, concrete and emotional words activate the mouth and the hand effectors. In both experiments participants performed first a lexical decision, then a recognition task. In Experiment 1 participants responded by pressing a button either with the mouth or with the hand, in Experiment 2 responses were given with the foot, while a button held either in the mouth or in the hand was used to respond to catch-trials. Abstract words were slower to process in both tasks (concreteness effect). Across the tasks and experiments, emotional concepts had instead a fluctuating pattern, different from those of both concrete and abstract concepts, suggesting that they cannot be considered as a subset of abstract concepts. The interaction between type of concept (abstract, concrete and emotional) and effector (mouth, hand) was not significant in the lexical decision task, likely because it emerged only with tasks implying a deeper processing level. It reached significance, instead, in the recognition tasks. In both experiments abstract concepts were facilitated in the mouth condition compared to the hand condition, supporting our main prediction. Emotional concepts instead had a more variable pattern. Overall, our findings indicate that various kinds of concepts differently activate the mouth and hand effectors, but they also suggest that concepts activate effectors in a flexible and task-dependent way.
Mazzuca, Claudia; Lugli, Luisa; Benassi, Mariagrazia; Nicoletti, Roberto; Borghi, Anna M
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/653648
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