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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2016 Sep;68:59-95. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.04.022. Epub 2016 May 14.

A touch with words: Dynamic synergies between manual actions and language.

Author information

1
Laboratory of Experimental Psychology and Neuroscience (LPEN), Institute of Cognitive and Translational Neuroscience (INCyT), INECO Foundation, Favaloro University, Buenos Aires, Argentina; National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), Buenos Aires, Argentina; Faculty of Elementary and Special Education (FEEyE), National University of Cuyo (UNCuyo), Mendoza, Argentina.
2
Laboratory of Experimental Psychology and Neuroscience (LPEN), Institute of Cognitive and Translational Neuroscience (INCyT), INECO Foundation, Favaloro University, Buenos Aires, Argentina; National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), Buenos Aires, Argentina; Universidad Autónoma del Caribe, Barranquilla, Colombia; Center for Social and Cognitive Neuroscience (CSCN), School of Psychology, Adolfo Ibáñez University, Santiago de Chile, Chile; Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Australian Research Council (ACR), Sydney, Australia. Electronic address: aibanez@ineco.org.ar.

Abstract

Manual actions are a hallmark of humanness. Their underlying neural circuitry gives rise to species-specific skills and interacts with language processes. In particular, multiple studies show that hand-related expressions - verbal units evoking manual activity - variously affect concurrent manual actions, yielding apparently controversial results (interference, facilitation, or null effects) in varied time windows. Through a systematic review of 108 experiments, we show that such effects are driven by several factors, such as the level of verbal processing, action complexity, and the time-lag between linguistic and motor processes. We reconcile key empirical patterns by introducing the Hand-Action-Network Dynamic Language Embodiment (HANDLE) model, an integrative framework based on neural coupling dynamics and predictive-coding principles. To conclude, we assess HANDLE against the backdrop of other action-cognition theories, illustrate its potential applications to understand high-level deficits in motor disorders, and discuss key challenges for further development. In sum, our work aligns with the 'pragmatic turn', moving away from passive and static representationalist perspectives to a more dynamic, enactive, and embodied conceptualization of cognitive processes.

KEYWORDS:

Enactive cognition; Hand-related language; Language embodiment; Manual-action networks; Predictive coding

PMID:
27189784
DOI:
10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.04.022
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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