Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
A recently emerging view sees language understanding as closely linked to sensory and motor processes. The present study investigates this issue by examining the influence of processing action verbs and concrete nouns on the execution of a reaching movement. Fine-grained analyses of movement kinematics revealed that relative to nouns, processing action verbs significantly affects overt motor performance. Within 200 msec after onset, processing action verbs interferes with a concurrent reaching movement. By contrast, the same words assist reaching movement when processed before movement onset. The cross-talk between language processes and overt motor behavior provides unambiguous evidence that action words and motor action share common cortical representations and could thus suggest that cortical motor regions are indeed involved in action word retrieval.