Description: This study examines the structure of action-verb co-occurrences in the early communicative environment to explore the origins of action verb meaning. We made naturalistic observations, examining whether infants from 1 to 3 years of age and their mothers associate manipulative verbs with ongoing manual activity in their flow of daily interactions (35,149 instances). We found that, above chance, either the mother (from 18 months on) or the child (from 27 months on) produced manipulative verbs while performing their corresponding actions, and the mother also produced these verbs when referring to the corresponding child’s actions (from 33 months on). By contrast, other possible contingencies such as the child-mother co-occurrence of actions or the co-occurrence of manipulative verbs were negative, suggesting a turn-taking pattern. Action-verb co-occurrences were highly synchronic (within 2.9 seconds temporal frames as average), they showed high referential accuracy (most action verbs match the ongoing actions), distinctiveness (only actions co-occur with manipulative verbs but not with postural and mental verbs), and redundancy (mother and child tend to produce the same action verbs matched with the actions). These features seem to be optimal to feed in a Hebbian learning mechanism connecting linguistic and motor regions in the brain, supporting the embodied origin of verb meaning. 

Researchers: María José Rodrigo, Mercedes Muñetón & Manuel de Vega

Data Base:

Action and verbs database

Action-verbs coincidences database

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Description: Beyond the classical left-hemisphere brain areas involved in language (Broca and Wernicke), we analyze how the processing of language recruits sensory-motor areas associated with meaning. Particularly action related language activates the motor and premotor cortex, and we try to demonstrate that these activations are functional aspects of meaning. 

Researchers: Manuel de Vega (IP),David Beltran, Inmaculada León, Iván Z Moreno, Iván Padrón.

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DescriptionWe analyze in these patients their rhythmic brain waves, when they observe actions and when they understand action-related language. In comparison with matched control participants, the Parkinson patients show anomalous rhythms in the mu and beta rhythms, associated with motor processes. This kind of analysis could potentially provide early markers of the disease.

Researchers: Manuel de Vega (IP), Alberto Domínguez, Fernando Cuetos, Carolina Yudes, Manuel Rodríguez.

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DescriptionSome recent studies suggest that when people are exposed to social exclusion situations in simulated games, their brain pain circuitry (including the anterior cingulate gyrus and the amygdala) reacts in a similar way as in physical pain situations. We are testing whether the same pain circuitry is also activated when people understand words or texts describing social exclusion scenarios.

ResearchersMabel Urrutia, Manuel de Vega.

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apuntar con el dedo

DescriptionWe humans communicate the objects position in the environment by means of language (the book is right of the telephone) or using the pointing gesture. We found that the two modes of spatial communication demand different cognitive processes, and rely on different brain systems.

Researchers: Manuel de Vega (IP), Maria Jose Rodrigo, Iván Padrón...

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adolescente

DescriptionAdolescents’ behavior is characterized by the trend to make risky decision in dangerous situations. We analyze by means of neuroimage (fMRI) the brain processes of adolescents and young adults while they make decision in simulated everyday risky situations with a social context (driving cars, risky sports, drugs, etc), and we found that the prefrontal cortex as well as the theory of mind neural network are involved in risky decisions. 

Researchers: Maria Jose Rodrigo (IP), Manuel de Vega, Iván Padron y Evelyn Ferstl.

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Description: Neglectful mothers respond poorly to their children’s needs. We explored how these mothers react to children’s face expressions, and discovered that neglectful mothers differ from control mothers in several ERP components, especially in the early N170 component. New neuroimage (fMRI) studies are in progress in our laboratory to test the neuroanatomical bases of these differences.

Researchers: Maria Josefa Rodrigo López (IP), Inmaculada León, Sonia Byrne....

Related articles:

Rodrigo, M. J., León, I., Góngora, D., Hernández, J. A., Byrne, S., & Bobes, A. (2016). Inferior fronto-temporo-occipital connectivity: a missing link between maltreated girls and neglectful mothers. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, nsw080.

 

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