Previous studies have demonstrated that verbal descriptions of actions activate compatible motor responses (Glenberg & Kaschak, 2002; Zwaan & Taylor, 2006). The present study replicates previous findings showing that, within a sentence, such activation is localized on the verb that denotes the action. Moreover, motor resonance is found to yield to linguistic focus. If a postverbal adverb maintains focus on a matching action (“slowly” or “quickly”), motor resonance occurs, but if the adverb shifts the focus to the agent (e.g., “obediently” or “eagerly”), a cessation of motor resonance ensues. These findings are discussed within the context of theories of motor resonance, action understanding, mental simulation, and linguistic focus.

action, linguistic focus, mental simulation, motor resonance, psychology,
The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Department of Psychology

Taylor, L.J, & Zwaan, R.A. (2008). Motor resonance and linguistic focus. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61(6), 896–904. doi:10.1080/17470210701625519