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08-11-2018 | Original Article | Uitgave 4/2020

Psychological Research 4/2020

Left inferior parietal and posterior temporal cortices mediate the effect of action observation on semantic processing of objects: evidence from rTMS

Tijdschrift:
Psychological Research > Uitgave 4/2020
Auteurs:
Francesco De Bellis, Alfonso Magliacano, Laura Sagliano, Massimiliano Conson, Dario Grossi, Luigi Trojano
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s00426-018-1117-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Abstract

Previous studies showed that motor information related to tool use (i.e., functional actions) could affect processing of objects semantic properties, whereas motor information related to grasping or moving tool (i.e., structural actions) cannot. However, little is known about the neural correlates mediating such interaction between motor and semantic information. Here, healthy participants performed a semantic judgment task requiring identification of semantic relations among objects, after observing a functional, a structural or a pointing action prime. In a within-subject design, during prime presentation the participants underwent repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the left supramarginal gyrus (SMG), the left posterior middle temporal gyrus (pMTG) or received sham stimulation. Results showed that in the sham condition observing functional actions (vs. structural and pointing actions) favoured processing of semantic relations based on function similarity (i.e., taxonomic relations), but not of relations based on co-occurrence within an event schema (i.e., thematic relations). Moreover, stimulation of both left SMG and pMTG abolished the effect of functional action primes worsening subsequent judgment about taxonomic relations, and this effect was greater after pMTG stimulation. rTMS did not affect processing of thematic semantic relations. We suggest that action observation triggers activation of functional motor information within left inferior parietal cortex, and that integration between functional motor and conceptual information in left temporal cortex could impact high-level semantic processing of tools.

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