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Front Hum Neurosci. 2017 Feb 14;11:35. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00035. eCollection 2017.

Dissociation between Semantic Representations for Motion and Action Verbs: Evidence from Patients with Left Hemisphere Lesions.

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Department of Psychology, Northumbria University Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths University of London London, UK.
Department of Psychology, School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University Birmingham, UK.
School of Psychology, University of East Anglia Norwich, UK.
Department of Psychology, University of Stirling Stirling, UK.


This multiple single case study contrasted left hemisphere stroke patients (N = 6) to healthy age-matched control participants (N = 15) on their understanding of action (e.g., holding, clenching) and motion verbs (e.g., crumbling, flowing). The tasks required participants to correctly identify the matching verb or associated picture. Dissociations on action and motion verb content depending on lesion site were expected. As predicted for verbs containing an action and/or motion content, modified t-tests confirmed selective deficits in processing motion verbs in patients with lesions involving posterior parietal and lateral occipitotemporal cortex. In contrast, deficits in verbs describing motionless actions were found in patients with more anterior lesions sparing posterior parietal and lateral occipitotemporal cortex. These findings support the hypotheses that semantic representations for action and motion are behaviorally and neuro-anatomically dissociable. The findings clarify the differential and critical role of perceptual and motor regions in processing modality-specific semantic knowledge as opposed to a supportive but not necessary role. We contextualize these results within theories from both cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience that make claims over the role of sensory and motor information in semantic representation.


affordances; aphasia; embodied cognition; lateral occipitotemporal cortex; left hemisphere; neuropsychology; semantic representation

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