TMS-induced modulation of action sentence priming in the ventral premotor cortex

Pascale Tremblay, Marc Sato, Steven L. Small

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Despite accumulating evidence that cortical motor areas, particularly the lateral premotor cortex, are activated during language comprehension, the question of whether motor processes help mediate the semantic encoding of language remains controversial. To address this issue, we examined whether low frequency (1. Hz) repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the left ventral premotor cortex (PMv) can interfere with the comprehension of sentences describing manual actions, visual properties of manipulable and non-manipulable objects, and actions of the lips and mouth. Using a primed semantic decision task, sixteen participants were asked to determine for a given sentence whether or not an auditorily presented target word was congruent with the sentence. We hypothesized that if the left PMv is contributing semantic information that is used to comprehend action and object related sentences, then TMS applied over PMv should result in a disruption of semantic priming. Our results show that TMS reduces semantic priming, induces a shift in response bias, and increases response sensitivity, but does so only during the processing of manual action sentences. This suggests a preferential contribution of PMv to the processing of sentences describing manual actions compared to other types of sentences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-326
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Embodiment
  • Language
  • Mirror neurons
  • RTMS
  • Semantics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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