The Embodied Penman: Effector-Specific Motor–Language Integration During Handwriting

Olivia Afonso, Paz Suárez-Coalla, Fernando Cuetos, Agustín Ibáñez, Lucas Sedeño, Adolfo M. García

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Several studies have illuminated how processing manual action verbs (MaVs) affects the programming or execution of concurrent hand movements. Here, to circumvent key confounds in extant designs, we conducted the first assessment of motor–language integration during handwriting—a task in which linguistic and motoric processes are co-substantiated. Participants copied MaVs, non-manual action verbs, and non-action verbs as we collected measures of motor programming and motor execution. Programming latencies were similar across conditions, but execution was faster for MaVs than for the other categories, regardless of whether word meanings were accessed implicitly or explicitly. In line with the Hand-Action-Network Dynamic Language Embodiment (HANDLE) model, such findings suggest that effector-congruent verbs can prime manual movements even during highly automatized tasks in which motoric and verbal processes are naturally intertwined. Our paradigm opens new avenues for fine-grained explorations of embodied language processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12767
JournalCognitive Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Action verbs
  • Embodied cognition
  • Handwriting
  • Manual actions
  • Motor–language integration


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