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Journal Articles Journal of Experimental Psychology: General Year : 2022

Factives at hand: When presupposition mode affects motor response

Abstract

It is well-established that the processing of hand, mouth, and foot-related action terms can activate areas of the motor cortex that are involved in the planning and execution of the described actions. In the present study, the sensitivity of these motor-structures to language processes is exploited to test linguistic theories on information-layering. Human languages possess a variety of linguistic devices, so-called presupposition triggers, which allow us to convey background information without asserting iit. A statement such as 'Marie stopped smoking' presupposes, without asserting it, that Marie used to smoke. How such presupposed information is represented in the brain is not yet understood. Using a grip force sensor that allows capturing motor brain activity during language processing, we investigate effects of information-layering by comparing asserted information that are known to trigger motor activity ('In the living room, Peter irons his shirt') with information embedded under a presuppositional factive verb construction ('Louis knows that Peter irons his shirt'; Experiment 1) and a non-factive verb construction ('Louis believes that Peter irons his shirt'; Experiment 2). Furthermore, we examine whether the projection behavior of a factive verb construction modulates grip force under negation ('Louis does not know that Peter irons his shirt'; Experiment 3). The data show that only the Presupposed Action verb in affirmative contexts (Experiment 1) triggers an increase in grip force comparable to the one of Asserted Action verbs, whereas the non-factive complement shows a weaker response (Experiment 2) and the projection structure does not trigger a grip force activation (Experiment 3). While the first two experiments seem to confirm the sensitivity of the grip force response to the construction of a plausible situation or event model, in which the motor action is represented as taking place, the third one raises the question of how robust this hypothesis is and how it can take the specificity of projection into account.
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hal-03538732 , version 1 (21-01-2022)

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Robert Reinecke, Tatjana A Nazir, Sarah Carvallo, Jacques Jayez. Factives at hand: When presupposition mode affects motor response. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 2022, 151 (9), pp.2173-2194. ⟨10.1037/xge0001167⟩. ⟨hal-03538732⟩
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