Language comprehension warps the mirror neuron system
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Language comprehension warps the mirror neuron system Arthur M. Glenberg Arizona State University University of Wisconsin - Madison September, 2013 Embodied Language, II Christ’s College, Cambridge. Ago, ergo Cogito. Today’s talk.

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Language comprehension warps the mirror neuron system

Arthur M. Glenberg

Arizona State University

University of Wisconsin - Madison

September, 2013

Embodied Language, II

Christ’s College, Cambridge

Ago, ergo Cogito


Today’s talk

Does action play a constituative role in linguistic meaning?

Ago, ergo Cogito

If so, can that role be traced to a mirror neuron system?

The plan: Determine if adaptation produced by repeated action affects language comprehension; determine if adaptation produced by repeated language affects perception of action.


Some possibilities for the relation between language and action

Ago, ergo Cogito

Modularity: Language and action are separate systems with little interaction.

Associative: Language and action are associated in that some words strongly prime actions and some actions strongly prime words.

Causal: Language understanding causally depends on action systems so that modifying action systems will modify language understanding.

Constituative: Activity in action systems constitutes, that is, IS part of the meaning that arises when understanding language.


Glenberg & Gallese, 2012 action

Action-based language (& Wolpert’s HMOSAIC)

/dr/

/k/

eyes

extend

controller

predictor

speech

speech

Social Environment

Bodily Actions & Perceptions

Physical Environment

Predictions

sensory feedback

Ago, ergo Cogito

drink/“drink”

Gain

Integrate

control over serial

order in action & speech

efference copy

bi-directional assoc.

of speech and action

basic motor

repertoire in

motor cortex

gesture

grounding of

meaning-- constituative

canonical neurons

mirror neurons


canonical neurons action

mirror neurons

Ago, ergo Cogito

purpose

action recognition

intent/theory of mind

enhance perception

communication?

Human data

fMRI, TMS, behavior, single-cell recoding

Broca’s & hand

From, Rizzolatti & Arbib, 1998


eyes action

arm

/g/

Predictions

controller

predictor

sensory feedback

give/ “give”

speech

speech

Gain

Social Environment

Integrate

Bodily Actions & Perceptions

efference copy

Physical Environment

Glenberg, Sato, & Cattaneo (2008)

The logic:

Mirror neurons are multi-modal and contribute to both action and cognition (e.g., language), so…

Ago, ergo Cogito

…using repeated motor movements to adapt action control ought to also adapt cognition.

Bean task


Adapting the motor action

system causally affects

language comprehension.


Suppose beans adapt a MNS that is constituative of language understanding, that is, action as the adapting stimulus affects language…

…can we use language as the adapting stimulus and affect action systems?

Ago, ergo Cogito

The plan: Repeat language of a particular kind, such as transfer away or transfer toward,

and measure effects on …

use of the MNS in action recognition/prediction

Flanagan & Johansson, 2003

…and, what if the adapting sentences are about transfer by leg?


Ago, ergo Cogito understanding, that is, action as the adapting stimulus affects language…


Conclusions understanding, that is, action as the adapting stimulus affects language…

1. Causal (yes!): Language understanding causally depends on action systems in that modifying action systems modifies language understanding.

Ago, ergo Cogito

2. Mirror neuron system (Probably): Adapting language causally affects prediction in a visual perception task. Depends on biological effectors.

3. Constituative (likely): The bi-directional adaptation is consistent with a constituative claim. Nonetheless, the data do not logically compel this conclusion.

Thank you!


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