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Revista signos

versión On-line ISSN 0718-0934


DE VEGA, Manuel. Revisiting the embodiment of narrative language. Rev. signos [online]. 2021, vol.54, n.107, pp.985-1003. ISSN 0718-0934.

The embodied approach to meaning posits that the comprehension of words, sentences and discourse (especially narrative) reuses the neural systems of perception, action and emotion. The most recent data of neuroscience support this idea. Particularly, neuroimaging and brain electrophysiology confirm that action-related language involves activations of motor and premotor cortex. However, critics of embodiment consider these data inconclusive, since they are merely correlational and do not demonstrate causal links between motor resonance and linguistic meaning (v.g., Mahon & Caramazza, 2008; Mahon, 2015; Dove, 2016; Ostarek & Huettig, 2019). Furthermore, they suggest that meaning is processed in a general-purpose semantic hub, and sensory-motor activations would not play any functional role. This article offers strong new evidence of causality; that is, motor activations would be substantial part of meaning. First, Parkinson patients not only have impaired motor behavior, but also show selective difficulties in the use of action verbs. Secondly, when participants read texts, keeping their hands behind the back, their recall of action sentences is impaired. Thirdly, applying excitatory non-invasive brain stimulation over the motor cortex improves memory for action language. Finally, the article briefly discusses the functional advantages of embodied meaning, and also addresses abstract language, one of the challenges of the embodied approach.

Palabras clave : Action language; neuroimaging; brain rhythms; non-invasive brain stimulation; abstract language.

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