Linguistic and motor representations of everyday complex actions: an fNIRS investigation

Davide Crivelli*, M. D. Sabogal Rueda, Michela Balconi

*Autore corrispondente per questo lavoro

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivistapeer review

7 Citazioni (Scopus)


The present work aimed at exploring functional correlates of motor and linguistic representations of everyday actions, with a specific interest in potential sensorimotor activation effects induced by the use of related action sentences. While it is indeed known that observing simple motor acts (e.g., precision grasping) and listening to the sound of specific actions (e.g., walking) activate sensorimotor structures, less is known when we move to more complex behaviors and more abstract linguistic representations (e.g., verbal descriptions). Again, the potential of linguistic representations to facilitate the activation of specific sensorimotor structures during action execution or observation is yet unexplored. We then aimed at investigating hemodynamic activation patterns (via functional near-infrared spectroscopy, fNIRS) within the sensorimotor network during different tasks based on everyday activities. Twenty volunteers were asked to execute (EXE), observe (OBS), or listen (LIS) to brief verbal descriptions of transitive actions, to observe them while listening to their description (OBS–LIS), or to execute them while listening to their description (EXE–LIS). Analyses highlighted that, in the left hemisphere, hemodynamic responses were the lowest during observation of complex actions and observation coupled with listening, greater during simple listening to verbal description of actions, and maximal when participants actually executed complex actions or executed them while listening to their verbal descriptions. The present results suggest that processing verbal descriptions of actions might keep the sensorimotor network more active than simply observing them. Such first pieces of evidence hint at potential implications for novel procedures for rehabilitation of movement and action deficits.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)2989-2997
Numero di pagine9
RivistaBrain Structure and Function
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2018


  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Action execution
  • Action observation
  • Embodied language
  • Linguistic representation
  • Sensorimotor network
  • fNIRS


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