Brain correlates of action word memory revealed by fMRI

Shebani, Z., Carota, F., Hauk, O., Rowe, J. B., Barsalou, L. W. , Tomasello, R. and Pulvermüller, F. (2022) Brain correlates of action word memory revealed by fMRI. Scientific Reports, 12, 16053. (doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-19416-w) (PMID:36163225) (PMCID:PMC9512810)

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Understanding language semantically related to actions activates the motor cortex. This activation is sensitive to semantic information such as the body part used to perform the action (e.g. arm-/leg-related action words). Additionally, motor movements of the hands/feet can have a causal effect on memory maintenance of action words, suggesting that the involvement of motor systems extends to working memory. This study examined brain correlates of verbal memory load for action-related words using event-related fMRI. Seventeen participants saw either four identical or four different words from the same category (arm-/leg-related action words) then performed a nonmatching-to-sample task. Results show that verbal memory maintenance in the high-load condition produced greater activation in left premotor and supplementary motor cortex, along with posterior-parietal areas, indicating that verbal memory circuits for action-related words include the cortical action system. Somatotopic memory load effects of arm- and leg-related words were observed, but only at more anterior cortical regions than was found in earlier studies employing passive reading tasks. These findings support a neurocomputational model of distributed action-perception circuits (APCs), according to which language understanding is manifest as full ignition of APCs, whereas working memory is realized as reverberant activity receding to multimodal prefrontal and lateral temporal areas.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by the Medical Research Council (UK) (FP, U1055.04.003.00001.01, MC_ UU_00005/18, JBR SUAG/051 G101400), the European Research Council through the Advanced Grant "Material constraints enabling human cognition, MatCo" (ERC-2019-ADG 883811) and by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) under Germany´s Excellence Strategy through the Cluster of Excellence "Matters of Activity. Image Space Material, MoA" (DFG EXC 2025/1 – 390648296) and by DFG research grants "The Sound of Meaning, SOM" (DFG Pu 97/22-1), "Brain Signatures of Communication, BraSiCo" (DFG Pu 97/23-1, SPP 1727) and "Phonological Networks, PhoNet" (DFG Pu 97/25-1). This work was also supported by the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (BRC-1215-20014).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Barsalou, Professor Lawrence
Authors: Shebani, Z., Carota, F., Hauk, O., Rowe, J. B., Barsalou, L. W., Tomasello, R., and Pulvermüller, F.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:Scientific Reports
Publisher:Nature Research
ISSN (Online):2045-2322
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Scientific Reports 12: 16053
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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