Compared to concrete concepts, like “book,” abstract concepts expressed by words like “justice” are more detached from sensorial experiences, even though they are also grounded in sensorial modalities. Abstract concepts lack a single object as referent and are characterised by higher variability both within and across participants. According to the Word as Social Tool (WAT) proposal, owing to their complexity, abstract concepts need to be processed with the help of inner language. Inner language can namely help participants to re-explain to themselves the meaning of the word, to keep information active in working memory, and to prepare themselves to ask information from more competent people. While previous studies have demonstrated that the mouth is involved during abstract concepts’ processing, both the functional role and the mechanisms underlying this involvement still need to be clarified. We report an experiment in which participants were required to evaluate whether 78 words were abstract or concrete by pressing two different pedals. During the judgement task, they were submitted, in different blocks, to a baseline, an articulatory suppression, and a manipulation condition. In the last two conditions, they had to repeat a syllable continually and to manipulate a softball with their dominant hand. Results showed that articulatory suppression slowed down the processing of abstract more than that of concrete words. Overall results confirm the WAT proposal’s hypothesis that abstract concepts processing involves the mouth motor system and specifically inner speech. We discuss the implications for current theories of conceptual representation.

Articulatory suppression delays processing of abstract words: The role of inner speech

Orsoni M.;Benassi M.;Borghi A. M.
2021

Abstract

Compared to concrete concepts, like “book,” abstract concepts expressed by words like “justice” are more detached from sensorial experiences, even though they are also grounded in sensorial modalities. Abstract concepts lack a single object as referent and are characterised by higher variability both within and across participants. According to the Word as Social Tool (WAT) proposal, owing to their complexity, abstract concepts need to be processed with the help of inner language. Inner language can namely help participants to re-explain to themselves the meaning of the word, to keep information active in working memory, and to prepare themselves to ask information from more competent people. While previous studies have demonstrated that the mouth is involved during abstract concepts’ processing, both the functional role and the mechanisms underlying this involvement still need to be clarified. We report an experiment in which participants were required to evaluate whether 78 words were abstract or concrete by pressing two different pedals. During the judgement task, they were submitted, in different blocks, to a baseline, an articulatory suppression, and a manipulation condition. In the last two conditions, they had to repeat a syllable continually and to manipulate a softball with their dominant hand. Results showed that articulatory suppression slowed down the processing of abstract more than that of concrete words. Overall results confirm the WAT proposal’s hypothesis that abstract concepts processing involves the mouth motor system and specifically inner speech. We discuss the implications for current theories of conceptual representation.
Fini C.; Zannino G.D.; Orsoni M.; Carlesimo G.A.; Benassi M.; Borghi A.M.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/856575
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