Thursday, August 5, 2010

Interesting Study: Body-Specific Representations of Action Verbs Neural Evidence From Right- and Left-Handers

U.S. President Barack Obama gestures during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, May 27, 2010. Obama promised on Thursday to hold BP accountable in the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill and said his administration would do everything necessary to protect and restore the coast. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ENVIRONMENT DISASTER BUSINESS)
"An analysis of politicians’ body language by Dutch researchers has revealed that the leaders use their dominant hand for gestures while making a positive statement and relied more frequently on the other when making a negative statement.

"The findings support the “body-specific hypothesis,” which links the content of our minds to the structure of our bodies. They also confirm past studies that showed individuals link their dominant side with positive things — like intelligence, goodness — while associate their nondominant side with more negative attributes.

"Study author Daniel Casasanto, of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands, said the last two US presidential elections offered an unprecedented opportunity to test this theory with regard to speech and body language. "

Unfortunately we all know politicians lie, it would be more interesting to test the theory on average people. Does it hold true for average people? Could this be the start of a theory concerning deception based on dominant vs nondominant handed gestures?

Body-Specific Representations of Action Verbs Neural Evidence From Right- and Left-Handers
Roel M. Willems
Peter Hagoort and Daniel Casasanto

According to theories of embodied cognition, understanding a verb like throw involves unconsciously simulating the action of throwing, using areas of the brain that support motor planning. If understanding action words involves mentally simulating one’s own actions, then the neurocognitive representation of word meanings should differ for people with different kinds of bodies, who perform actions in systematically different ways. In a test of the body-specificity hypothesis, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare premotor activity correlated with action verb understanding in right- and left-handers. Right-handers preferentially activated the left premotor cortex during lexical decisions on manual-action verbs (compared with nonmanual-action verbs), whereas left-handers preferentially activated right premotor areas. This finding helps refine theories of embodied semantics, suggesting that implicit mental simulation during language processing is body specific: Right- and left-handers, who perform actions differently, use correspondingly different areas of the brain for representing action verb meanings.◦