Motor resonance and linguistic focus

Lawrence Taylor, Rolf Zwaan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)896-904
JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008

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