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Poster F112

Probing embodied cognition and cognitive-motor interference during walking while listening to words

Poster Session F - Tuesday, April 16, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Mengwan Xu1,2,3 (, Elena Maslow1,4,5, Agnès Zagala1,2,3, Simone Dalla Bella1,2,3, Simone Falk1,2,3; 1University of Montreal, 2International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS), Montreal, Canada, 3Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music (CRBLM), Montreal, Canada, 4Institute for Phonetics and Speech Processing, Munich, Germany, 5Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

The framework of embodied cognition suggests that language processing interacts with actual body movement. Previously, behavioural and neuroimaging evidence demonstrated that motor execution, primarily of hand movements, is facilitated when participants’ movements match the meaning of linguistic stimuli. We report here on a proof-of-concept study to probe the idea that language-movement interactions extend to whole-body movements that are highly automized, such as gait. We developed a walking-while-listening-to-language paradigm (WLL), featuring motion capture with concurrent optical imaging (fNIRS). In the first part of the study, using the WLL with motion capture only, sixteen French-speaking young adults were walking while listening to either city names or action verbs. The results showed a semantic effect on gait compatible with the embodied cognition approach, with higher cadence and step length when listening to action verbs vs. city names. In the second part of the study (data collection ongoing), we aimed to test whether WLL constitutes a dual task leading to cognitive-motor interference. Using the full WLL setup (including fNIRS), another 16 adults walked with and without verbal and non-verbal auditory stimuli (verbs, city names, a click track), and under classical dual-task conditions. We hypothesized that exposure to verbs while walking would result in higher cognitive load, measured via prefrontal neural activity, than when walking with city-names or non-verbal stimuli but lower than in a classic dual task. The results of this study will lay the grounds for further research and contribute to better understand the intricate links between language, brain and gross motor functioning.

Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Other


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April 13–16  |  2024