Visual recognition of words learned with gestures induces motor resonance in the forearm muscles

Claudia Repetto* (Corresponding Author), Brian Mathias, Otto Weichselbaum, Manuela Macedonia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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According to theories of Embodied Cognition, memory for words is related to sensorimotor experiences collected during learning. At a neural level, words encoded with self-performed gestures are represented in distributed sensorimotor networks that resonate during word recognition. Here, we ask whether muscles involved in gesture execution also resonate during word recognition. Native German speakers encoded words by reading them (baseline condition) or by reading them in tandem with picture observation, gesture observation, or gesture observation and execution. Surface electromyogram (EMG) activity from both arms was recorded during the word recognition task and responses were detected using eye-tracking. The recognition of words encoded with self-performed gestures coincided with an increase in arm muscle EMG activity compared to the recognition of words learned under other conditions. This finding suggests that sensorimotor networks resonate into the periphery and provides new evidence for a strongly embodied view of recognition memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17278
Number of pages16
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

We thank Sabrina Füreder and Edanur Aktan for their contribution to the data collection.

Data Availability Statement

Te dataset generated and analysed during the current study are available from Dr. Mathias upon reasonable request.


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