Volume 23, Issue 2 (summer 2021)                   Advances in Cognitive Sciences 2021, 23(2): 157-168 | Back to browse issues page

Ethics code: IR.SUMS.REHAB.REC.1398.021

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Tabiee M, Khormaee A, Nami M, Moloodi A. Comparing the ability of motor simulation in dyslexic and typical children during action verbs processing. Advances in Cognitive Sciences. 2021; 23 (2) :157-168
URL: http://icssjournal.ir/article-1-1238-en.html
1- PhD Student in Linguistics, Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics, School of Literature and Humanities, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran
2- Associate Professor of Linguistics, Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics, School of Literature and Humanities, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran
3- Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, Department of Neuroscience, School of Advanced Medical Sciences and Technologies, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran
4- Assistant Professor of Linguistics, Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics, School of Literature and Humanities, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran
Abstract:   (2238 Views)
The study of the embodiment has recently been an area of interest in cognitive linguistics since it plays an essential role in language comprehension. Specifically, this idea has been supported by Embodied Construction Grammar (ECG), an approach in cognitive linguistics introduced by Bergen and Chang (4). What has been emphasized in ECG is that perceptual and motor systems influence higher cognitive abilities like memory, language, and mental simulation. Specifically, concerning this idea, several studies have shown that action execution and observation influence subsequent language processing, in that action verbs processing elicit activation of effector-specific regions in the primary motor and premotor cortex. In other words, bodily experiences will affect how comprehenders process language. Therefore, language comprehension results from an action or perceptual simulation. It means that comprehenders activate perceptual and motor details of the related contents during sentence processing to understand the messages. However, the relationship between motor skills impairment and action-related language processing is still a controversial issue. In order to clarify this issue, the present study was conducted to design an image-verb matching task to examine the motor imagery ability of dyslexic and typically developing children during action verbs comprehension. We used Persian verbs expressing hand and foot actions that were either congruent or incongruent with the images that the subjects were exposed to.
This study was a descriptive-analytical one. Thirty-four children from grades 2 through 6 (aged between 8 to 13 years old) participated in this study: a group of 17 children with developmental dyslexia (DD) with mild to moderate degrees of reading disorder (12 boys and five girls; mean age= 10.6, SD= 1.51) and a group of 17 typically developing children (TD) (12 boys and five girls; mean age= 10.3, SD= 1.41). In both groups, the children were matched pairwise on chronological age and gender. Children with DD were recruited for participation through rehabilitation centers and special centers for language and learning disabilities. The TD group consisted of a subset of children recruited from state primary schools in the city of Shiraz. Children with DD were selected according to three subtests: 1) clinical interview, 2) Persian version of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV), subjects with IQ level below 80 were excluded, and 3) Bender Visual-Motor Gestalt Test. Potential subjects in both groups were screened to ensure that they did not have any history of neurological and psychiatric disorders that could contribute to motor impairment. In addition, subjects underwent reading examination to evaluate their reading skills, and children who had a severe reading disability were excluded.
Based on the matching paradigm of Bergen et al. (2003), 14 stick-figure images depicting an action verb of hand and leg were selected from web libraries. The images were black on a white background. Three Persian verbs were generated for each image, 1) matching, 2) non-matching the same effector, and 3) non-matching different effector. The verbs expressed foot-related action (e.g., walking) or hand-related action (e.g., catching), and they were all presented in the infinitive form. In order to use images that depict particular motor actions and prevent participants from paying attention to the face and eye states, all the details in the faces were deleted. Totally, the image-verb matching task contained 42 image–verbs.
Reaction time (RT) and accuracy rates were recorded in accord with the following hypothesis in mind. If action execution, motor imagery, and action-related language comprehension recruit common neural substrates; therefore, a longer reaction time and more errors should be obtained for an image-verb matching task in the DD group, and because of motor skills impairment, they would perform weaker than typically developing children. The statistical analyses were performed by SPSS software (version 23.0), and the significance level for all analyses was set at P<0.05. The analysis was considered according to two fixed-effects factors; group factor (DD children vs. TD children) and verb types (matching, same-effector mismatches, and different-effector mismatches). The mean comparisons between groups were carried out to calculate reaction time using Kruskal Wallis Test. Comparisons between groups were carried out to examine the accuracy rates using the chi-Square test. The nonparametric Kruskal Wallis Test showed a significant difference between two groups, and indicating a better performance of the typical children over the dyslexic children: matching verbs, (DD mean= 3.55, SD= 3.43; TD mean= 2.41, SD= 0.88, P<0.001), same-effector mismatches (DD mean= 3.47, SD=1.98; TD mean= 3.32, SD=0.97, P<0.001), and different-effector mismatches (DD mean= 4.03, SD=2.92; TD mean=2.43, SD=0.78, P<0.001). It is clear that in the TD group mean RT to the same-effector condition is about 890 msec longer than the different-effector condition. While in the DD group, the mean RT to the different-effector condition is about 560 msec longer than the same-effector condition.  Accuracy rates were calculated for correct responses, "yes" responses to trials in matching conditions, and "no" responses in the same-effector and different-effector conditions.  The chi-Square test showed a better performance of the typically developing children over the dyslexic children. In all verb types, dyslexics scored significantly less than typically developing children: Matching verbs, (DD mean= 71.8%; TD mean= 88.2%, P<0.001), same-effector mismatches (DD mean= 59.7%; TD mean= 75.6%, P<0.001), and different-effector mismatches (DD mean= 66.4%; TD mean= 97.9%, P<0.001). Accuracy rates for all verb types were significantly different in both groups (DD, P<0.019, TD, P<0.001).
The present study aimed to examine whether motor skills impairment influences motor imagery ability during action-related language processing. Children in both groups were presented with stick images and three verb types that were either in a match or mismatch condition. The obtained results were in line with embodied theories of language and supported poor motor imagery ability in children with developmental dyslexia. As predicted in this research, typically developing children were faster and more accurate when the verbs were in the matching condition. In contrast, dyslexic children were less able to activate motor representations of action verbs and had difficulty simulating motor information. Therefore, motor skills impairment can affect motor imagery ability during action verbs processing. In conclusion, these findings indicate that action execution and action verbs processing share common representations and lend support to embodied cognition theory in that there is a significant connection between embodied experiences and language comprehension. In addition, the lower ability to simulate the motor representation of action verbs in children with DD highlights the critical role of embodied experiences in language understanding.
Ethical Considerations
Compliance with ethical guidelines
The present study was conducted by obtaining the ethical code IR.SUMS.REHAB.REC.1398.021 from Shiraz University of Medical Sciences. To observe ethical considerations, before evaluating and recording the information, the parents were informed in writing about the goals and importance of the research and signed the informed consent form to enter the research. In addition, the students’ parents could opt out of the study at any time. Parents were informed that all information about the subjects would remain confidential and the names of the individuals would be avoided in the results.
Authors’ contributions
Preparing the original draft and data collection: Maryam Tabiee; Methodology, data analysis and conclusion: Maryam Tabiee, Alireza Khormaee, Mohammad Nami, and Amirsaeid Moloodi. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
This work is part of fulfilling a PhD dissertation that is supported by the Cognitive Sciences and Technologies Council.
Acknowledgment The authors thank statisticians in the Clinical Research Development Center of Namazi Hospital for helpful feedback and guidance.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that this work was conducted in the absence of any financial support.
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Type of Study: Research |
Received: 2021/01/6 | Accepted: 2021/04/26 | Published: 2021/08/24

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