How the Context Matters. Literal and Figurative Meaning in the Embodied Language Paradigm

Valentina Cuccio, Francesco Lo Piparo, Marco Carapezza, Francesca Ferri, Valentina Cuccio, Marianna Ambrosecchia, Vittorio Gallese, Leonardo Fogassi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The involvement of the sensorimotor system in language understanding has been widely demonstrated. However, the role of context in these studies has only recently started to be addressed. Though words are bearers of a semantic potential, meaning is the product of a pragmatic process. It needs to be situated in a context to be disambiguated. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that embodied simulation occurring during linguistic processing is contextually modulated to the extent that the same sentence, depending on the context of utterance, leads to the activation of different effector-specific brain motor areas. In order to test this hypothesis, we asked subjects to give a motor response with the hand or the foot to the presentation of ambiguous idioms containing action-related words when these are preceded by context sentences. The results directly support our hypothesis only in relation to the comprehension of hand-related action sentences.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages0
JournalPLoS One
Publication statusPublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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