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The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00426-016-0760-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Numerical magnitude and specific grasping action processing have been shown to interfere with each other because some aspects of numerical meaning may be grounded in sensorimotor transformation mechanisms linked to finger grip control. However, how specific these interactions are to grasping actions is still unknown. The present study tested the specificity of the number–grip relationship by investigating how the observation of different closing–opening stimuli that might or not refer to prehension-releasing actions was able to influence a random number generation task. Participants had to randomly produce numbers after they observed action stimuli representing either closure or aperture of the fingers, the hand or the mouth, or a colour change used as a control condition. Random number generation was influenced by the prior presentation of finger grip actions, whereby observing a closing finger grip led participants to produce small rather than large numbers, whereas observing an opening finger grip led them to produce large rather than small numbers. Hand actions had reduced or no influence on number production; mouth action influence was restricted to opening, with an overproduction of large numbers. Finally, colour changes did not influence number generation. These results show that some characteristics of observed finger, hand and mouth grip actions automatically prime number magnitude, with the strongest effect for finger grasping. The findings are discussed in terms of the functional and neural mechanisms shared between hand actions and number processing, but also between hand and mouth actions. The present study provides converging evidence that part of number semantics is grounded in sensory-motor mechanisms.
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- Influence of finger and mouth action observation on random number generation: an instance of embodied cognition for abstract concepts
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg