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Poster B107

Motor Representation and Semantic Control: Examining Embodiment of Action Verb in First and Second Language

Poster Session B - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Siyi Tu1 (, Jing Yang1; 1Zhejiang University

Converging evidence on embodied cognition suggests that semantic processing relies not only on a representation system closely linked to sensory-motor structures but also on a semantic control system. However, little is known about whether and how these two systems interact during the embodied semantic processing of a less embodied and less proficient second language (L2). In our study, we investigated the brain activation of 31 late Chinese-English bilinguals during a verb-verb semantic similarity judgment task in both first language (L1) and L2. We observed the widely-reported delay in reaction time for same-effector unrelated pairs (e.g., kick, run) compared to different-effector unrelated pairs (e.g., kick, grasp) exclusively in L1, an effector-triggered interference attributable to semantic control of embodied information. The results revealed that, in L1, bilateral superior temporal gyrus (STG), bilateral middle temporal gyrus (MTG), bilateral supplementary motor area (SMA), right precentral and postcentral cortex were involved in different-effector pairs versus baseline (none-effector pairs); the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), left middle frontal gyrus (MFG), and left inferior parietal lobule (IPL) in same-effector pairs versus baseline, suggesting an active interaction between the representation system (motor regions) and the control system (IFG, MTG, IPL) during verb similarity judgment. When comparing the activation patterns across languages, we found greater activation in the left ventral and dorsal premotor cortex (vPM, dPM) in L1 over L2. These findings suggest that L2 recruits control and representation systems similar to L1 to process embodied words, and observed behavioral differences might be attributed to varying degrees of embodiment.

Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Semantic


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