Motor simulation in verbal knowledge acquisition

Markus Paulus*, Oliver Lindemann, Harold Bekkering

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research highlights the importance of motor processes for a wide range of cognitive functions such as object perception and language comprehension. It is unclear, however, whether the involvement of the motor system goes beyond the processing of information that is gathered through active action experiences and affects also the representation of knowledge acquired through verbal learning. We tested this prediction by varying the presence of motor interference (i.e., squeezing a ball vs. oddball detection task) while participants verbally acquired functional object knowledge and examined the effects on a subsequent object detection task. Results revealed that learning of functional object knowledge was only impaired when participants performed an effector-specific motor task while training. The present finding of an effector-specific motor interference effect on object learning demonstrates the crucial role of the motor system in the acquisition of novel object knowledge and provides support for an embodied account to perception and cognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2298-2305
Number of pages8
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Correspondence should be addressed to Markus Paulus, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9104, 6500 HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands. E-mail: We thank Sabine Hunnius for useful discussions of this project as well as Terry Eskenazi for comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. The present study was supported by a VICI Grant (453–05–001) from the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and the ICIS project (BSIK03024) sponsored by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.


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