Researchers have observed that hearing a verb related to physical action automatically increases the force with which people grip objects. This effect on their physical reaction is absent if the word is presented in the negative form.
Volunteers in the study were asked to hold a grip sensor as they heard a variety of verbs related to manual actions, like "throw" or "scratch", in different sentence structures.
Pia Aravena and colleagues from the L2C2, Institute of Cognitive Sciences (CNRS/UCBL), France, observed a significant increase in the strength of participants' grip when words were presented in an affirmative sentence, but no such reaction when the same action words were presented in a negative context, such as "don't throw".
Several previous studies have explored how the brain processes negative sentence structures like "The door is not open" but this is among the first research studies to explore the effects of this sentence-dependent context on language-induced motor activity.
"These findings could open possibilities for the evaluation and rehabilitation of motor and language disorders" Aravena said.
The study has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.