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Neurophysiological distinction of verb categories
PULVERMULLER, F., Haerle, M. & Hummel, F.
Neuroreport, 11, 2789-2793
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Neurophysiological brain responses to subcategories of action verbs were recorded using high resolution EEG. Starting 240 ms after word onset, topographies of event-related potentials distinguished between verbs referring to different action types. Current source density estimates revealed that verbs referring to actions executed with the legs (to kick) produced an activity focus close to the vertex, above motor areas involved in the programming of leg movements, whereas face-related verbs (to speak) produced a focus at left-lateral recordings, above perisylvian areas and the cortical representation of the face and articulators. This is evidence that brain mechanisms involved in word processing can differ even between fine-grained lexico-semantic subcategories and already within the first quarter of a second after word onset. We offer an explanation of the data in neurobiological terms.