Inferences about action engage action systems

Lawrence Taylor, S. Lev Ari, Rolf Zwaan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Verbal descriptions of actions activate compatible motor responses [Glenberg, A. M., & Kaschak, M. P. (2002). Grounding language in action. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 9, 558–565]. Previous studies have found that the motor processes for manual rotation are engaged in a direction-specific manner when a verb disambiguates the direction of rotation [e.g. “unscrewed;” Zwaan, R. A., & Taylor, L. (2006). Seeing, acting, understanding: Motor resonance in language comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 135, 1–11]. The present experiment contributes to this body of work by showing that verbs that leave direction ambiguous (e.g. “turned”) do not necessarily yield such effects. Rather, motor resonance is associated with a word that disambiguates some element of an action, as meaning is being integrated across sentences. The findings are discussed within the context of discourse processes, inference generation, motor activation, and mental simulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-67
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


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