Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 193, Issue 1, pp 43–53 | Cite as

Language-induced motor activity in bi-manual object lifting

  • Claudia Scorolli
  • Anna M. Borghi
  • Arthur Glenberg
Research Article


Language comprehension requires a simulation process that taps perception and action systems. How specific is this simulation? To address this question, participants listened to sentences referring to the lifting of light or heavy objects (e.g., pillow or chest, respectively). Then they lifted one of two boxes that were visually identical, but one was light and the other heavy. We focused on the kinematics of the initial lift (rather than reaching) because it is mostly shaped by proprioceptive features derived from weight that cannot be visually determined. Participants were slower when the weight suggested by the sentence and the weight of the box corresponded. This effect indicates that language can activate a simulation which is sensitive to intrinsic properties such as weight.


Language Weight Intrinsic objects properties Movement 



This work was supported by Ministero Italiano dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca (MIUR), Progetto PRIN 2006, by a University of Bologna Ph.D. grant to the first author and by the FP7 project ROSSI, Emergence of communication in RObots through Sensorimotor and Social Interaction, Grant agreement no: 216125 to the second author. We thank Roberto Bolzani, Daniele Caligiore, and Barbara Marino for useful discussions of these data. Thanks also to the students of courses in cognitive psychology for their help in executing the experiment.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia Scorolli
    • 1
  • Anna M. Borghi
    • 2
  • Arthur Glenberg
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Communication DisciplinesUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  4. 4.Deparment of PsychologyUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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