In the last decades, the embodied approach to cognition and language gained momentum in the scientific debate, leading to evidence in different aspects of language processing. However, while the bodily grounding of concrete concepts seems to be relatively not controversial, abstract aspects, like the negation logical operator, are still today one of the main challenges for this research paradigm. In this framework, the present study has a twofold aim: (1) to assess whether mechanisms for motor inhibition underpin the processing of sentential negation, thus, providing evidence for a bodily grounding of this logic operator, (2) to determine whether the Stop-Signal Task, which has been used to investigate motor inhibition, could represent a good tool to explore this issue. Twenty-three participants were recruited in this experiment. Ten hand-action-related sentences, both in affirmative and negative polarity, were presented on a screen. Participants were instructed to respond as quickly and accurately as possible to the direction of the Go Stimulus (an arrow) and to withhold their response when they heard a sound following the arrow. This paradigm allows estimating the Stop Signal Reaction Time (SSRT), a covert reaction time underlying the inhibitory process. Our results show that the SSRT measured after reading negative sentences are longer than after reading affirmative ones, highlighting the recruitment of inhibitory mechanisms while processing negative sentences. Furthermore, our methodological considerations suggest that the Stop-Signal Task is a good paradigm to assess motor inhibition’s role in the processing of sentence negation.
Is motor inhibition involved in the processing of sentential negation? An assessment via the Stop-Signal Task / Montalti, M.; Calbi, M.; Cuccio, V.; Umilta, M. A.; Gallese, V.. - In: PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH. - ISSN 0340-0727. - (2021). [10.1007/s00426-021-01512-7]
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