Neuroimaging and behavioral studies have revealed involvement of the brain's motor system in language comprehension. The Linguistic-Focus Hypothesis [Taylor, L. J., & Zwaan, R. A. (2008). Motor resonance and linguistic focus. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61, 869-904.] postulates that engagement of the motor system during language comprehension is controlled by the focus of the linguistic message. Two experiments were conducted to further test this hypothesis. They examined whether motor resonance, which has previously been found to occur on descriptions of actions occurring in the present, extends to descriptions of (1) actions potentially occurring in the future (action intentions) and (2) actions having occurred in the past. An additional goal was to examine if motor resonance occurs in a narrative context. Using the reading-by-rotation paradigm [Zwaan, R. A., & Taylor, L. J. (2006). Seeing, acting, understanding: Motor resonance in language comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 135, 1-11.], Experiment 1 found evidence for motor resonance occurring on current action descriptions embedded in a narrative, but not action intentions. Experiment 2 found evidence for motor resonance on both current and past actions. These results partly support the Linguistic-Focus Hypothesis and lead to further hypotheses about the modulation of motor activation during language comprehension.

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Keywords Discourse comprehension, Embodied cognition, Language comprehension, Linguistic focus, Mental simulation, Motor resonance, Motor system
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Journal Brain and Language
Zwaan, R.A, Taylor, L.J, & de Boer, M. (2010). Motor resonance as a function of narrative time: Further tests of the linguistic focus hypothesis. Brain and Language, 112(3), 143–149. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2008.11.004