Sentence comprehension affects the dynamics of bimanual coordination: Implications for embodied cognition

Anne Olmstead, Navin Viswanathan, Karen A. Aicher, Carol A. Fowler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Recent work in embodied cognition has demonstrated that language comprehension involves the motor system (e.g., Glenberg Kaschak, 2002). Such findings are often attributed to mechanisms involving simulations of linguistically described events (Barsalou, 1999; Fischer Zwaan, 2008). We propose that research paradigms in which simulation is the central focus need to be augmented with paradigms that probe the organization of the motor system during language comprehension. The use of well-studied motor tasks may be appropriate to this endeavour. To this end, we present a study in which participants perform a bimanual rhythmic task (Kugler Turvey, 1987) while judging the plausibility of sentences. We show that the dynamics of the bimanual task differ when participants judge sentences describing performable actions as opposed to sentences describing events that are not performable. We discuss the general implications of our results for accounts of embodied cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2409-2417
Number of pages9
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2009


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Physiology (medical)

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