Hearing positive verbs can induce unconscious physical response

Hearing a verb related to physical action automatically increases the force with which people grip objects, but has no effect on their physical reaction if the word is presented in the negative form, according to research published December 5 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Pia Aravena and colleagues from the L2C2, Institute of Cognitive Sciences (CNRS/UCBL), France.

Volunteers in the study were asked to hold a grip sensor as they heard a variety of related to manual actions, like 'throw' or 'scratch', in different sentence structures. The researchers observed a significant increase in the strength of participants' grip when words were presented in an affirmative sentence, but no such reaction when the same action words were presented in a negative context, such as 'don't throw'.

Several previous studies have explored how the brain processes negative sentence structures like "The door is not open", but this is among the first research studies to explore the effects of this sentence-dependent context on language-induced motor activity. "These findings could open possibilities for the evaluation and rehabilitation of motor and language disorders" says Aravena.

More information: Aravena P, Delevoye-Turrell Y, Deprez V, Cheylus A, Paulignan Y, et al. (2012) Grip Force Reveals the Context Sensitivity of Language-Induced Motor Activity during ''Action Words'' Processing: Evidence from Sentential Negation. PLoS ONE 7(12): e50287. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050287

Related Stories

How listeners perceive verbs

Jan 29, 2007

The verb forms the heart of a sentence. Although a lot of research has been done into the role that verbs play during the transfer of information, less is known about exactly how and when the listener or reader uses this ...

True or false? How our brain processes negative statements

Feb 11, 2009

Every day we are confronted with positive and negative statements. By combining the new, incoming information with what we already know, we are usually able to figure out if the statement is true or false. Previous research ...

Historical context guides language development

Apr 14, 2011

Not only do we humans enjoy talking -- and talking a lot -- we also do so in very different ways: about 6,000 languages are spoken today worldwide. How this wealth of expression developed, however, largely remains a mystery. ...

Getting your message across

Jul 16, 2012

Far from processing every word we read or hear, our brains often do not even notice key words that can change the whole meaning of a sentence, according to new research from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Can You Read My Mind?

Mar 23, 2005

The W.M. Keck Foundation has awarded Carnegie Mellon University a $750,000 grant to support research into how the human brain deciphers language, which could one day yield advances in the treatment of neurological disorders ...

Recommended for you

Elderly brains learn, but maybe too much

6 hours ago

A new study led by Brown University reports that older learners retained the mental flexibility needed to learn a visual perception task but were not as good as younger people at filtering out irrelevant ...

Inpatient psychotherapy is effective in Germany

8 hours ago

Sarah Liebherz (Department of Medical Psychology, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf) and Sven Rabung (Institute of Psychology, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt) have examined 59 studies conducted between 1977 ...

A game changer to boost literacy and maths skills

10 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Finding the best way to teach reading has been an ongoing challenge for decades, especially for those children in underprivileged areas who fail to learn to read. What is the magic ingredient that will ...

How do we make moral judgements?

11 hours ago

In a target article published in the current issue of the American Journal of Bioethics (AJOB) Neuroscience, Université de Montréal and IRCM neuroethics experts open the black box of moral intuitions by suggesting a new ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.