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With the new visualiminal personal development technology, you can:

• Neutralise and transform the negative inner patterns that stop you from achieving your desired prosperity

• Use the power of affirmation, PowerWords and PowerSignatures to manifest your dreams and achieve the results you desire

• Use the effective re-patterning program to transform the working of your inner mind forever

 

Top tips

“The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money form coming to them with their thoughts.”

The Secret

"You can be anything you want to be, if only you believe with sufficient conviction and act in accordance with your faith; for whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.”

Napoleon Hill
(Best selling author of 'Think and Grow Rich')

"We need to upgrade our old, outdated programs if we want to change and upgrade our lives. Until your unconscious mind is programmed for wealth, nothing you learn, know or do will make any difference in the long run.”

Paul McKenna
(author of 'I Can Make You Rich')

 

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Jan, PhotoReading Instructor

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RESEARCH & LINKS ON SUBLIMINALS, SUBLIMINAL TAPES, SUBCONSCIOUS MIND, PRECONSCIOUS PROCESSING

 

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RESEARCH ARTICLES

Subliminal messages really do affect your decisions

* 14 February 2009
* Magazine issue 2695. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.
* For similar stories, visit the The Human Brain Topic Guide

IF YOU ever felt paranoid about subliminal messages, you might be right to worry. Images we see but don't consciously register have been shown to inform people's decision-making.

Joel Voss of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and colleagues showed volunteers 12 kaleidoscope images for 2 seconds each while they also performed an unrelated number task to distract them from consciously committing the images to memory.

A minute later, volunteers were asked to look at pairs of similar-looking images and choose the one they had seen before. They were also asked whether they were sure, had "a feeling" they were right, or were just guessing.

Those who took a shot in the dark were as successful as the rest. "They were 70 to 80 per cent accurate; it would be only 50 per cent if it was chance," says Voss (Nature Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1038/nn.2260).

During the memory task, the volunteers' brain activity was monitored by electrical sensors attached to their heads. As the pattern of activity differed between "guessers" and the other groups, it suggests that we access unconscious and conscious visual memories differently, says Voss.
Issue 2695 of New Scientist magazine

* From issue 2695 of New Scientist magazine, page 16

Source: New Scientist

Trigger For Brain Plasticity Identified: Signal Comes, Surprisingly, From Outside The Brain

ScienceDaily (Aug. 9, 2008) — Researchers have long sought a factor that can trigger the brain's ability to learn – and perhaps recapture the "sponge-like" quality of childhood. In the August 8 issue of the journal Cell, neuroscientists at Children's Hospital Boston report that they've identified such a factor, a protein called Otx 2.

Otx2 helps a key type of cell in the cortex to mature, initiating a critical period -- a window of heightened brain plasticity, when the brain can readily make new connections.

The work was done in a mouse model of the visual system, a classic model for understanding how the brain sets up its wiring in response to input from the outside world. But Takao Hensch, PhD, of the Neurobiology Program and Department of Neurology at Children's, the study's senior investigator, speculates that there may be similar factors from the auditory, olfactory and other sensory systems that help time critical periods. Timing is important, because the brain needs to rewire itself at the right moment -- when it's getting the optimal sensory input.

"If the timing is off, the brain won't set up its circuits properly," Hensch says.

Being able to control the timing of critical periods in different parts of the brain could possibly ameliorate developmental disorders such as autism, in which researchers believe critical periods may be inappropriately accelerated or delayed. Retriggering a critical period might also help people learn more readily after childhood – acquiring a new language, developing musical abilities or recovering from stroke or brain injury, for example.

Interestingly, Hensch and colleagues found that the brain cells that switch on critical periods in the visual system (parvalbumin cells) don't actually make Otx2 themselves. Instead, Otx2 is sent by the retina. In essence, the eye is telling the brain, "The eyes are ready and seeing properly -- you can rewire now."

"The eye is telling the brain when to become plastic, rather than the brain developing on its own clock," says Hensch, who is also a professor at Harvard Medical School and at Harvard University's Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology. "The idea that this class of molecular messenger is passed from cell to cell is considered unorthodox in cell biology." This idea, however, has long been advocated by Dr. Alain Prochiantz of the Ecole Normale Superieure (Paris) and College de France, Hensch's collaborator and a coauthor on the study.

It was previously known that when parvalbumin cells mature, they set up inhibitory circuits in the cortex, balancing the existing excitatory circuits. Hensch and others have shown that setting up inhibitory circuits is key in launching critical periods. "Early excitatory input is important to make first contacts between neurons," Hensch explains. "But then, at the next stage, you need inhibition."

In the current study, Hensch and colleagues demonstrated that when mice are reared in the dark, thus getting no visual input, Otx2 remains in the retina. Only when the mice received full visual input did Otx2 begin to appear in the cortex, and only then did parvalbumin cells start to mature.

In other experiments, the researchers injected Otx2 directly into the cortex. The parvalbumin cells matured, even when the mice were kept in the dark. Finally, when Otx2 synthesis was blocked in the eye, parvalbumin cell functions failed to mature.

Otx2 has an unusual derivation: it is originally produced during embryonic development; without it, mice don't develop heads. Production then stops, but some days after birth, it reappears in parvalbumin cells. "The nervous system is recycling an embryonic factor to induce brain plasticity," says Hensch.

Hensch, who last fall won the highly competitive NIH Director's Pioneer Award, is also interested in the transport mechanism that propagates Otx2 from the retina to the cortex. He speculates that Otx2 itself could be a carrier for factors you'd want to deliver to the brain, envisioning eye drops for brain disorders such as schizophrenia, in which parvalbumin cells don't properly mature.

The study was funded by the Human Frontiers Science Program (Strasbourg), the Fondation pour La Recherche Medicale, and in part by RIKEN (Japan) and the Japanese Ministry of Science, Education and Technology (MEXT). Sayaka Sugiyama, PhD, was first author.

How the Brain Translates Money into Force: A Neuroimaging Study of Subliminal Motivation.
Pessiglione M, Schmidt L, Draganski B, et al.

Unconscious motivation in humans is often inferred but rarely demonstrated empirically. We imaged motivational processes, implemented in a paradigm that varied the amount and reportability of monetary  rewards for which subjects exerted physical effort.  We show that, even when subjects cannot report how much money is at stake, they nevertheless deploy more force for higher amounts. Such a motivational effect is underpinned by engagement of a specific basal forebrain region. Our findings thus reveal this region as a key node in brain circuitry that enables expected rewards to energize  behavior, without the need for the  subjects awareness.

Preconscious processing of threat in posttraumatic stress disorder

Journal Cognitive Therapy and Research
Allison G. Harvey1, Richard A. Bryant1 and Ronald M. Rapee3
(1) Westmead Hospital and the University of New south Wales, Australia
(2) School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, 2052 Sydney, Australia
(3) Macquarie University, Australia

Abstract
Conscious and preconscious processing of threatening information in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was studied using a masked modified Stroop paradigm. Twenty subjects who had been in motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) and met criteria for PTSD were compared with 20 MVA non-PTSD and 20 non-MVA subjects. PTSD subjects, but not MVA or non-MVA subjects, demonstrated greater interference on threat words in both the masked and unmasked conditions. The results suggest that preferential processing of threat-related information in PTSD occurs at a preconscious stage of processing.

This project was supported by a grant from the Motor Accident Authority of NSW (Clinical  Sciences Project No. 9743).

Publisher Springer Netherlands
ISSN 0147-5916 (Print) 1573-2819 (Online)
Issue Volume 20, Number 6 / December, 1996
DOI 10.1007/BF02227964
Pages 613-623
Subject Collection Behavioral Science
SpringerLink Date Sunday, October 23, 2005

Cognitive Processing of Emotional Information in Depression, Panic, and Somatoform Disorder.

Abstract
Emotional Stroop tasks  (subliminal/supraliminal exposures), implicit memory tasks (tachistoscopic word identification), and explicit memory tasks (free  recall after incidental learning) with 4 word  types (physical threat, positive, negative, and  neutral words) were administered to patients  with major depressive disorder (n = 30), panic  disorder (n = 33), somatoform disorder (n = 25),  and healthy control participants (n = 33). On the Stroop task, panic patients showed subliminal interferences for physical threat and negative  words, depressive patients showed supraliminal  interferences for negative words, and  somatoform patients showed supraliminal  interferences for physical threat words. No patient groups demonstrated implicit memory biases. On the explicit memory task, depressive and panic patients showed memory biases for negative words; somatoform patients showed biases for physical threat words. (PsycINFO

Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)
Authors Lim, Seung-Lark; Kim, Ji-Hae
Affiliations Lim, Seung-Lark: Department of Psychiatry, Samsung Medical Center,  Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine,  Seoul, Korea
Kim, Ji-Hae: Department of Psychiatry, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan  University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
Source Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 2005 Feb Vol 114(1) 50-61

Attentional bias to threat: Roles of trait anxiety, stressful events, and awareness

Authors: Karin Mogg a; Brendan P. Bradley a; Nina Hallowell a
Affiliation:    a University of Cambridge, Cambridge, U.K.
DOI: 10.1080/14640749408401099
Publication Frequency: 8 issues per year
Published in:  The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A, Volume  47, Issue 4 November 1994 , pages 841 - 864
Formats available: PDF (English)
Now published as: The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

Attentional biases for threat stimuli were assessed in high and low trait anxious subjects  (n = 66) using a probe detection task. To examine the effects of trait anxiety and situational stressors, each subject was tested  three times: Under no stress, laboratory-induced  stress, and examination-induced stress. To evaluate the role of awareness, half the word  stimuli were presented very briefly (14 msec)  and masked, and the other half were presented  for 500 msec without a mask. Results showed that high trait anxious subjects under exam stress showed an attentional bias towards unmasked threat stimuli compared with low trait subjects. This effect was not found under lab-induced stress, suggesting that the attentional bias for unmasked threat in high trait subjects may be a function of a prolonged stressor, rather than a transient increase in state  anxiety. The results from the masked exposure condition were not predicted; high trait anxious subjects shifted attention towards the spatial location of threat words despite lack of awareness of their lexical content, but this bias  was only apparent in the no-stress condition. The results are discussed in relation to recent cognitive theories of anxiety.

Preconscious Processing Effects: The Independence of Attitude Formation and Conscious Thought
Chris Janiszewski
The Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 15,  No. 2 (Sep., 1988), pp. 199-209

Abstract
Two experiments investigate the formation of  attitudes toward unattended stimuli. In  Experiment 1, a presentation format that  encourages processing at a preconscious level  demonstrates that attitude formation can occur  independently of conscious consideration.  Alternative theoretical explanations are offered  to account for the purported independence of  conscious thought and preference formation,  and Experiment 2 is a test of these alternatives.  The results of Experiment 2 suggest that  consumers use differential hemispheric  strategies for task performance to form preconsciously based attitudes. A post hoc analysis is conducted to advance more explicit  claims about the operational nature of the  underlying preconscious processes.

Seven Principles of Goal Activation: A Systematic Approach to Distinguishing Goal  Priming From Priming of Non-Goal Constructs Personality and Social Psychology Review,
Vol.  11, No. 3, 211-233 (2007)
DOI: 10.1177/1088868307303029
Jens Förster
Jacobs University Bremen and University of  Amsterdam
Nira Liberman

Countless studies have recently purported to demonstrate effects of goal priming; however, it is difficult to muster unambiguous support for  the claims of these studies because of the lack  of clear criteria for determining whether goals,  as opposed to alternative varieties of mental  representations, have indeed been activated.  Therefore, the authors offer theoretical guidelines that may help distinguish between semantic, procedural, and goal priming. Seven principles that are hallmarks of self-regulatory processes are proposed: Goal-priming effects (a)  involve value, (b) involve postattainment  decrements in motivation, (c) involve gradients  as a function of distance to the goal, (d) are  proportional to the product of expectancy and  value, (e) involve inhibition of conflicting goals,  (f) involve self-control, and (g) are moderated by equifinality and multifinality. How these principles might help distinguish between automatic activation of goals and priming  effects that do not involve goals is discussed.

University at Albany, State University of New York

Ronald S. Friedman 

Custers, R., & Aarts, H. (2005).

Positive affect as  implicit motivator: On the nonconscious operation of  behavioral goals.
Journal of Personality and Social  Psychology, 89, 129-142.[CrossRef][ISI][Medline]  [Order article via Infotrieve]

Recent research has revealed that nonconscious  activation of desired behavioral states--or  behavioral goals--promotes motivational activity to  accomplish these states. Six studies demonstrate  that this nonconscious operation of behavioral goals  emerges if mental representations of specific  behavioral states are associated with positive affect.  In an evaluative-conditioning paradigm, unobtrusive  linking of behavioral states to positive, as compared  with neutral or negative, affect increased  participants' wanting to accomplish these states.  Furthermore, participants worked harder on tasks  that were instrumental in attaining behavioral states  when these states were implicitly linked to positive  affect, thereby mimicking the effects on motivational  behavior of preexisting individual wanting and  explicit goal instructions to attain the states.  Together, these results suggest that positive affect  plays a key role in nonconscious goal pursuit.  Implications for behavior-priming research are  discussed.

Bargh, J.A., Gollwitzer, P.M., Lee-Chai, A.,  Barndollar, K., & Trötschel, R. (2001). The  automated will: Nonconscious activation and pursuit  of behavioral goals. Journal of Personality and  Social Psychology, 81, 1014-1027

Bargh, J. A. (2006). What have we been priming all  these years? On the development, mechanisms,  and ecology of nonconscious social behavior.  European Journal of Social Psychology [Agenda  2006 article]

Bargh, J. A., & Ferguson, M. L. (2000). Beyond  behaviorism: On the automaticity of higher mental  processes. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 925-945.

Bargh, J. A., Gollwitzer, P. M., Lee-Chai, A. Y.,  Barndollar, K., & Troetschel, R. (2001).

The  automated will: Nonconscious activation and pursuit  of behavioral goals.

Journal of Personality and  Social Psychology, 81, 1014-1027.

Ferguson, M.J. & Bargh, J.A. (2004). Liking is for  doing: The effects of goal pursuit on automatic  evaluation. Journal of Personality and Social  Psychology, 87, 557-572.

A direct intracranial record of emotions evoked by subliminal words

Lionel Naccache, Raphaël Gaillard, Claude  Adam , Dominique Hasboun , Stéphane  Clémenceau, Michel Baulac , Stanislas Dehaene, and Laurent Cohen

*Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche  Médicale, Unité 562, Institut Fédératif de Recherche  49, Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique/Département  de la Recherche Médicale/Direction des Sciences  du Vivant, 91401 Orsay Cedex, France; and  Departments of Clinical Neurophysiology,  Neurology, and Neurosurgery, Hôpital de la  Salpêtriere, 47 Boulevard de l'Hôpital, Institut  Fédératif de Recherche 70, 75013 Paris Cedex,  France

Edited by Edward E. Smith, Columbia University,  New York, NY, and approved April 5, 2005 (received  for review January 21, 2005)

A classical but still open issue in cognitive  psychology concerns the depth of subliminal  processing. Can the meaning of undetected words  be accessed in the absence of consciousness?  Subliminal priming experiments in normal subjects  have revealed only small effects whose  interpretation remains controversial. Here, we  provide a direct demonstration of semantic access  for unseen masked words. In three epileptic patients  with intracranial electrodes, we recorded brain  potentials from the amygdala, a neural structure  that responds to fearful or threatening stimuli  presented in various modalities, including written  words. We show that the subliminal presentation of  emotional words modulates the activity of the  amygdala at a long latency (>800 ms). Our result indicates that subliminal words can trigger  long-lasting cerebral processes, including semantic access to emotional valence.

How the Brain Translates Money into Force: A Neuroimaging Study of Subliminal Motivation.
Pessiglione M, Schmidt L, Draganski B, et al.

Unconscious motivation in humans is often inferred but rarely demonstrated empirically. We imaged motivational processes, implemented in a paradigm that varied the amount and reportability of monetary  rewards for which subjects exerted physical effort.  We show that, even when subjects cannot report how much money is at stake, they nevertheless deploy more force for higher amounts. Such a motivational effect is underpinned by engagement of a specific basal forebrain region. Our findings thus reveal this region as a key node in brain circuitry that enables expected rewards to energize  behavior, without the need for the  subjects awareness.

Implicit self and affect regulation: Effects of action orientation  and subliminal self priming in an affective priming  task
Koole, S. L. & Coenen, L. H. M. (2007).
Self and Identity, 6, 118-136.

Two studies examined the impact of subliminal  self-activation on affective regulation among action-  versus state-oriented individuals. Action orientation  is a regulatory mode characterized by decisiveness  and initiative, whereas state orientation is a  regulatory mode characterized by indecisiveness  and hesitation. According to the model of intuitive  affect regulation (Koole & Kuhl, in press),  action-oriented individuals have stronger  associations between the implicit self and affect  regulation systems than state-oriented individuals.  This prediction was tested in an affective priming  task (Fazio, Sanbonmatsu, Powell, & Kardes, 1986).  As expected, subliminal self primes triggered  down-regulation of negative affect among  action-oriented participants. By contrast, subliminal self primes triggered persistence of negative affect  among state-oriented participants. Supraliminal self primes had no parallel effects. The implicit self may thus play a key role in affect regulation and  volitional action control.

European Journal of Neuroscience

Functional links between motor and language systems

Friedemann Pulvermüller, Olaf Hauk, Vadim V. Nikulin and Risto J. Ilmoniemi3,nland
1Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Medical Research Council, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge CB2 2EF, UK
2Karolinska Institutet, Clinical Neurophysiology, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden
3BioMag Laboratory, Engineering Centre, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki Brain Research Centre, Helsinki, Finland
4Nexstim Ltd, Helsinki, Finland

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was applied to motor areas in the left language-dominant hemisphere while right-handed human subjects made lexical decisions on words related to actions. Response times to words referring to leg actions (e.g. kick) were compared with those to words referring to movements involving the arms and hands (e.g. pick). TMS of hand and leg areas influenced the processing of arm and leg words differentially, as documented by a significant interaction of the factors Stimulation site and Word category. Arm area TMS led to faster arm than leg word responses and the reverse effect, faster lexical decisions on leg than arm words, was present when TMS was applied to leg areas. TMS-related differences between word categories were not seen in control conditions, when TMS was applied to hand and leg areas in the right hemisphere and during sham stimulation. Our results show that the left hemispheric cortical systems for language and action are linked to each other in a category-specific manner and that activation in motor and premotor areas can influence the processing of specific kinds of words semantically related to arm or leg actions. By demonstrating specific functional links between action and language systems during lexical processing, these results call into question modular theories of language and motor functions and provide evidence that the two systems interact in the processing of meaningful information about language and action

Somatotopic Representation of Action Words in Human Motor and Premotor Cortex

Olaf Hauk, Ingrid Johnsrude and Friedemann Pulvermüller,
Medical Research Council, Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge, CB2 2EF, United Kingdom
Received 6 August 2003;  Revised 14 October 2003;  accepted 25 November 2003 Published: January 21, 2004  Available online 24 January 2004.

Abstract
Since the early days of research into language and the brain, word meaning was assumed to be processed in specific brain regions, which most modern neuroscientists localize to the left temporal lobe. Here we use event-related fMRI to show that action words referring to face, arm, or leg actions (e.g., to lick, pick, or kick), when presented in a passive reading task, differentially activated areas along the motor strip that either were directly adjacent to or overlapped with areas activated by actual movement of the tongue, fingers, or feet. These results demonstrate that the referential meaning of action words has a correlate in the somatotopic activation of motor and premotor cortex. This rules out a unified “meaning center” in the human brain and supports a dynamic view according to which words are processed by distributed neuronal assemblies with cortical topographies that reflect word semantics.

 

Figure 2. Brain Areas Activated by Subcategories of Action Words Are Adjacent to and Partly Overlap with Activations Produced by the Corresponding Movement Types(A) Hemodynamic activation during tongue, finger, and foot movements (localizer scans).(B) Hemodynamic activation during reading action words related to face (green), arm (red), and leg (blue) movements (p < 0.001, k > 33). Results are rendered on a standard brain surface.(C) Mean parameter estimates (in arbitrary units) for clusters differentially activated by subgroups of action words in the left hemisphere.(D) Overlap of activation produced by “arm” and “leg” words with that produced by finger and foot movements, respectively. Numbers below separate slices label z coordinates in MNI space, and the color scales indicate t values for arm and leg word related activation separately.

Somatotopic Representation of Action Words in Human Motor and Premotor Cortex
Olaf Hauk, Ingrid Johnsrude and Friedemann Pulvermüller,
Medical Research Council, Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge, CB2 2EF, United Kingdom
Received 6 August 2003;  Revised 14 October 2003;  accepted 25 November 2003 Published: January 21, 2004  Available online 24 January 2004.

Abstract
Since the early days of research into language and the brain, word meaning was assumed to be processed in specific brain regions, which most modern neuroscientists localize to the left temporal lobe. Here we use event-related fMRI to show that action words referring to face, arm, or leg actions (e.g., to lick, pick, or kick), when presented in a passive reading task, differentially activated areas along the motor strip that either were directly adjacent to or overlapped with areas activated by actual movement of the tongue, fingers, or feet. These results demonstrate that the referential meaning of action words has a correlate in the somatotopic activation of motor and premotor cortex. This rules out a unified “meaning center” in the human brain and supports a dynamic view according to which words are processed by distributed neuronal assemblies with cortical topographies that reflect word semantics.

Article Outline
• Small Volume Correction
Stimuli and Experimental Design

Introduction

Among the most intensely debated issues in the cognitive neuroscience of language is the question of the cortical “seat” of word meaning (Martin and Chao 2001 and Pulvermüller 1999). Although there is little doubt that areas in left inferior frontal and superior temporal cortex—sometimes referred to as Broca's and Wernicke's regions—play a major role in language processing, the location of additional areas possibly contributing to semantic processing remains controversial. Most theories localize meaning-related mechanisms in areas anterior, inferior, and posterior to Wernicke's area in the left temporal lobe (Hickok and Poeppel 2000; Mummery et al. 1998; Price et al. 2001 and Scott and Johnsrude 2003). However, since most studies investigating the issue have focused on the cortical processing of highly imageable concrete nouns and concepts related to their meaning, it is possible that other word types engage semantic representations in other cortical regions. When hemodynamic and neurophysiological imaging studies compared words referring to objects with words that have a clear semantic relationship to actions, typically action verbs (Dehaene 1995; Kellenbach et al. 2002; Preissl et al. 1995 and Pulvermüller et al. 1996) or nouns referring to tools (Chao et al. 1999; Ishai et al. 1999 and Martin et al. 1996), the latter elicited strong frontal activation including premotor cortex, suggesting that the frontal activation might reflect aspects of the action-related meaning of action words (Martin and Chao 2001 and Pulvermüller 1996). If so, the cortical locus of meaning processing could be, in part, determined by the general neuroscientific principle of Hebbian learning according to which neuronal correlation is mapped onto connection strength (Hebb 1949 and Tsumoto 1992). If word forms frequently cooccur with visual perceptions (object words), their meaning-related activity may be found in temporal visual areas, whereas action words frequently encountered in the context of body movements may produce meaning-related activation in the frontocentral motor areas (Braitenberg and Pulvermüller 1992; Martin and Chao 2001; Pulvermüller 1996 and Pulvermüller 2003). To our knowledge, we provide here the first compelling evidence that word-meaning processing elicits specific activity patterns in frontocentral action-related areas, including motor and premotor cortex.

The motor system is a convenient place to examine this theory, given that the cortical representations of the face, arm, and leg are discrete and somatotopically organized in the motor and premotor cortex (Leyton and Sherrington 1917; Penfield and Rasmussen 1950 and Rizzolatti and Luppino 2001) (Figure 1A). In the case of words referring to actions performed with the face, arm, or leg, neurons processing the word form and those processing the referent action should frequently fire together and thus become more strongly linked, resulting in word-related networks overlapping with motor and premotor cortex in a somatotopic fashion (Pulvermüller, 1999). Following up on earlier neurophysiological work (Pulvermüller et al., 2001), we tested this proposal in an fMRI study and here provide evidence that action words from different semantic subcategories (referring to movement of parts of the face, arm, or leg) activate the motor cortex in a somatotopic fashion that overlaps in premotor and motor cortex with the activation pattern observed for actual movements of the relevant body parts.

Image
Figure 1. Action Words Activate Classical Language Areas as well as Frontocentral Motor Regions(A) Illustration of the somatotopic organization of the motor cortex (after Penfield and Rasmussen, 1950).(B) Mean ratings for the word stimuli obtained from study participants. Subjects were asked to give ratings on a 7 point scale whether the words reminded them of face, arm, and leg actions. The word groups are clearly dissociated semantically (face-, arm-, and leg-related words).(C) Activation produced by all action words pooled together (p < 0.001, k > 33). Results are rendered on a standard brain surface (left) and on axial slices of the same brain (right). Numbers below separate slices indicate z coordinates in MNI space.

In order to find appropriate stimulus words, a rating study was first performed to evaluate semantic properties of a large number of English words. Subjects were asked to rate words according to their action and visual associations and to make explicit whether the words referred to and reminded them of leg, arm, and face movements that they could perform themselves (Figure 1B). From the rated material, 50 words from each of the three semantic subcategories were selected and presented in a passive reading task to 14 right-handed volunteers, while hemodynamic activity was monitored using event-related fMRI. The word groups were matched for important variables, including word length, imageability, and standardized lexical frequency, in order to minimize physical or psycholinguistic differences that could influence the hemodynamic response. To identify the motor cortex in each volunteer individually, localizer scans were also performed, during which subjects had to move their left or right foot, left or right index finger, or tongue.

Results and Discussion

Comparison of all action words to the baseline (Table 1, Figure 1C) revealed activation in the left fusiform gyrus (focus at standardized stereotaxic coordinate −42 −40 −20), a region that is close to an area that has been called the visual word form area (center at −42 −57 −15; Dehaene et al., 2002). However, left inferior temporal cortex is also well-known to contribute to semantic processing (area around −44 −62 −16; see Price and Friston, 1997), and so activation seen in the present study may reflect processes of meaning access common to all words under study (Devlin et al. 2002 and Tyler and Moss 2001). Importantly, passive word reading activated left inferior frontal cortex, and there was also activation along the precentral gyrus (motor cortex) and posterior middle frontal gyrus (premotor cortex). This confirms earlier reports that processing of action-related words activates premotor cortex (Martin et al., 1996) in addition to the activation of areas known to contribute unspecifically to the processing of all types of words and concepts. Our present results indicate that such action-related activation can involve primary motor cortex and does not require a linguistic task (e.g., naming) but is elicited by stimulus words per se, even in a passive reading task.
Table 1. Coordinates and Statistics for Activation Peaks Produced by All Action Words and by Separate Subcategories of Action Words Image
The prediction under investigation in the present study concerns possible differences between the cortical activation patterns elicited by action words of different semantic subcategories and, more specifically, their relation to motor areas. The body movements studied in the localizer task were accompanied by regionally specific increases in hemodynamic activity covering the motor and somatosensory areas in the pre- and postcentral gyri (Figure 2A). As expected, tongue movements (shown in green) activated inferior-frontal areas, finger movements (red) produced activation in a dorsolateral area, and foot movements (blue) produced dorsal activation on the midline.

Image
Figure 2. Brain Areas Activated by Subcategories of Action Words Are Adjacent to and Partly Overlap with Activations Produced by the Corresponding Movement Types(A) Hemodynamic activation during tongue, finger, and foot movements (localizer scans).(B) Hemodynamic activation during reading action words related to face (green), arm (red), and leg (blue) movements (p < 0.001, k > 33). Results are rendered on a standard brain surface.(C) Mean parameter estimates (in arbitrary units) for clusters differentially activated by subgroups of action words in the left hemisphere.(D) Overlap of activation produced by “arm” and “leg” words with that produced by finger and foot movements, respectively. Numbers below separate slices label z coordinates in MNI space, and the color scales indicate t values for arm and leg word related activation separately.
Figure 2B shows the activity pattern elicited by face-, arm-, and leg-related words compared to the baseline condition (viewing hash marks). The left-hemispheric inferior-temporal and inferior-frontal gyrus foci were seen for all three word types alike. Face words (areas highlighted in green) specifically activated inferior-frontal premotor areas bilaterally. Specific activation for arm words (in red) was found dorsal to these in the premotor cortex in the middle frontal gyrus bilaterally and in the motor cortex in the precentral gyrus of the left hemisphere. Leg words (in blue) produced specific foci in dorsal areas in left and midline pre- and postcentral gyri and in dorsal premotor cortex on the midline. This pattern is consistent with a somatotopic organization of cortical activity induced by action words along the motor strip and in premotor cortex. A relationship between action and action word processing is further suggested by the resemblance of the action- and word-evoked hemodynamic changes documented in Figures 2A and 2B.
The mean parameter estimates for the action word-specific activation clusters in the left hemisphere (shown in Figure 2B) are presented in Figure 2C. The diagram confirms the triple dissociation among the word categories. In each cluster, the target word category (for example, arm words for the cluster activated by arm words) shows distinctively higher parameter estimates than the other two word categories. Importantly, the remaining two categories produce parameter estimates which are both lower than for the target category and of roughly equal magnitude to each other, indicating that the triple dissociation suggested by the significance maps in Figure 2B is not just due to an appropriate choice of the significance threshold. A two way (cluster × word category) ANOVA on the parameter estimates averaged over the voxels in each cluster revealed a significant interaction of the factors cluster and word category [F(4,52) = 2.97, p < 0.05].

To more precisely determine the relationship between the cortical localization of actions and action words, overlap regions were computed between corresponding conditions. Whereas tongue movements elicited activation in premotor areas just posterior to the inferior frontal patch activated by face words, the other word types and their related body movements produced significant overlapping activity in the motor cortex (Figure 2D; Table 2, bottom). Activation for finger movements overlapped with arm word-related blood flow increases in left precentral gyrus and in right middle frontal gyrus. Activation for foot movements overlapped with activation produced by leg words in dorsal premotor areas on the midline and in left dorsal pre- and postcentral gyri. These results demonstrate that the reading of words referring to actions performed with different body parts activates the motor and premotor cortex in a somatotopic fashion. Areas involved in making movements of parts of the body are also active during reading of words semantically related to movements of those same body parts. This pattern was clearly evident in the left hemisphere and was detectable in the right, nondominant, hemisphere as well.

Table 2. Coordinates and Statistics for Activation Peaks Produced by Tongue, Finger, and Foot Movements along the Cortical Motor Strip, as well as for the Brain Areas in which Overlap between Those and the Action Word Activation Occurred Image
All activations listed for the overlap regions were significant after small volume correction using ROIs defined on the basis of the localizer scans (p < 0.05, SV corrected). LH, left hemisphere; RH, right hemisphere; Ct, central.
Earlier studies in man and monkey have indicated that processing of action-related information (such as perceiving the action itself or recognizing sequential patterns) activates a system of mirror neurons in premotor cortex (Buccino et al. 2001; Rizzolatti et al. 2002 and Schubotz and von Cramon 2002). EEG results have indicated differential activation in frontocentral recording at around 200 ms, when action words from different semantic subcategories are processed (Pulvermüller et al., 2001). Here, we could precisely localize this specific activation to action word subcategories in motor and premotor cortex and demonstrate their overlap with areas contributing to action programming. It may be that multimodal mirror neurons contributing to both language and action are the basis of the observed overlap in cortical activation.

We tested the hypothesis that action words should elicit a somatotopic activation pattern within premotor and primary motor areas. This hypothesis was confirmed by our data: body part-specific primary motor activation was found for arm- and leg-related words, while premotor cortex was activated by arm- and face-related stimuli. Furthermore, we found overlap between activation produced by arm and leg words and the corresponding finger and foot movements but not for face word and tongue movement activation. This may be explained by the fact that the tongue is mostly involved in articulatory movements. The face words employed in our study referred to a wider range of movements involving the jaw or the whole head (such as “bite,” “chew,” etc.). The corresponding movements would not have been suitable for our localizer experiment, since they could cause severe movement artifacts. In contrast, small finger and foot movements are relatively unproblematic in the scanner, and these body parts are usually involved in movements performed with the whole arm or leg, such as in grasping or walking movements, respectively. We investigated this issue experimentally in a separate rating study. Eight volunteers rated our stimuli on a 7 point scale according to whether the corresponding movements indeed involved the tongue, hands, or feet. We found that face-related words were rated significantly lower on “tongue involvement” (mean 3.0) than arm words on “hand involvement” (5.2) or leg words on “foot involvement” (5.1). We subjected these data to a one-way ANOVA with the factor word category and obtained a highly significant main effect [F(2,14) = 17.96, p < 0.001]. The actual overlap of activity evoked by arm and leg words and that produced by finger and foot movements, and the proximity of activity related to tongue movements and that related to face words, should therefore be interpreted as strong evidence that the processing of action words involves brain areas within primary motor or premotor cortex.
It is important to note that our subjects were kept naive about the objective of the experiment until the very end of the experimental session. Nothing in the instructions or the procedure biased their attention toward action-related aspects of the stimuli. To the contrary, they were explicitly discouraged to perform any movement in the scanner during the word reading experiment. Therefore, we consider it unlikely that the activation pattern we observed was caused by an intentional or conscious preparation or even execution of the corresponding movements.

Our results are best explained by an associative model of word processing in the brain according to which words and the actions and perceptions they regularly relate to and frequently cooccur with are cortically represented and processed by distributed neuronal assemblies with distinct cortical topographies (Pulvermüller 1999 and Pulvermüller 2003). For action words, these assemblies appear to include neurons in specific motor and premotor areas in both hemispheres, and this motor component may be critical for the processing of these words (Neininger and Pulvermüller 2001 and Neininger and Pulvermüller 2003).
These data support a dynamic view of word meaning in the human brain. In contrast to other authors who suggest that semantics is represented in meaning-specific brain regions that process all words alike (Hickok and Poeppel 2000; Mummery et al. 1998; Lichtheim 1885; Price et al. 2001; Scott and Johnsrude 2003 and Wernicke 1874), we propose that semantic representations are distributed in a systematic way throughout the entire brain. More specifically, in this study we have shown that the pattern of cortical activation elicited by an action word reflects the cortical representation of the action to which the word refers. This may indicate that one aspect of the meaning of a word, its reference, is laid down by specific corticocortical links. The pattern of hemodynamic changes induced by action words may be uniquely determined by the principle of somatotopic organization of the motor and premotor cortex and by the correlation learning principle. These two principles are sufficient for explaining the observed dependence of cortical activation on word meaning.

Experimental Procedures
Imaging Methods

Fourteen monolingual, right-handed, healthy native English speakers participated in the study. Their mean age was 25 years (SD 5). Subjects were scanned in a 3T Bruker MR system using a head coil. Echo planar imaging (EPI) sequence parameters were TR = 3.02 s, TE = 115 ms, flip ANGLE = 90 degrees. The functional images consisted of 21 slices covering the whole brain (slice thickness 4 mm, interslice distance 1 mm, in-plane resolution 1.6 × 1.6 mm). Imaging data were processed using SPM99 software (Wellcome Department of Cognitive Neurology, London, UK).

Images were corrected for slice timing and then realigned to the first image using sinc interpolation. Phase maps were used to correct for inaccuracies resulting from inhomogeneities in the magnetic field (Cusack et al. 2003 and Jezzard and Balaban 1995). Any nonbrain parts were removed from the T1-weighted structural images using a surface model approach (“skull-stripping”) (Smith, 2002). The EPI images were coregistered to these skull-stripped structural T1 images using a mutual information coregistration procedure (Maes et al., 1997). The structural MRI was normalized to the 152 subject T1 template of the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI). The resulting transformation parameters were applied to the coregistered EPI images. During the spatial normalization process, images were resampled with a spatial resolution of 2 × 2 × 2 mm3. Finally, all normalized images were spatially smoothed with a 12 mm full-width half-maximum Gaussian kernel, globally normalized, and single-subject statistical contrasts were computed using the general linear model (Friston et al., 1998). Low-frequency noise was removed with a high-pass filter (action word experiment: time constant 60 s; localizer scans: 300 s). Group data were analyzed with a random-effects analysis. A brain locus was considered to be activated in a particular condition if 33 or more adjacent voxels all passed the threshold of P = 0.001 (uncorrected). Stereotaxic coordinates for voxels with maximal z values within activation clusters are reported in the MNI standard space (which resembles very closely the standardized space of Talairach and Tournoux, 1988; see Brett et al., 2002b).
For those clusters that were identified by the random-effects analysis in the language-dominant left hemisphere as differentially activated by specific action word categories (Table 1), we computed the average parameter estimates over voxels for each individual subject. This was done using the Marsbar software utility (Brett et al., 2002a). These values were subjected to an ANOVA including the factors cluster (arm-, face-, and leg-related activity foci) and word category (arm, face, and leg words). The mean values (in arbitrary units) over subjects are shown in Figure 2C.
 

Small Volume Correction

We hypothesized that activation produced by action words should overlap with that produced by movements as revealed by the localizer scans. A region-of-interest (ROI) analysis with small volume (SV) correction was therefore carried out; this used specific movement activations (e.g., for finger movements) as the ROI of the respective word categories (e.g., arm-related words). Small-volume analysis was carried out for both hemispheres separately. To exclude cerebellar activity and inferior brain areas that were either not consistently sampled in all subjects or suffered from geometric distortion owing to field inhomogeneities, loci with stereotaxic z coordinates lower than −10 mm were excluded. We used a threshold of p < 0.005 for defining the boundaries of the ROIs. Table 2 (bottom) reports the coordinates and t values for significantly activated foci (p < 0.05, SV corrected).

Stimuli and Experimental Design

One hundred and fifty action words, 50 from each of the categories of face-, arm-, and leg-related words, were selected using established procedures (Pulvermüller et al., 1999). They were matched for word length, standardized lexical frequency, and imageability but differed with regard to their semantic associations, as assessed in a rating study (Figure 1B). One hundred and fifty filler words with arbitrary semantic content were added in order to avoid focusing the subjects' minds on action-related aspects of the stimuli. Stimuli employed during 150 baseline trials consisted of strings of meaningless hash marks varying in length. The average length of action words and hash marks was matched. In addition, 50 null events were included in which a fixation cross remained on the screen. The SOA was 2.5 s, so that TR and SOA differed by not, vert, similar500 ms. Two pseudorandomized stimulus sequences were alternated between subjects. For statistical analysis, the SPM99 canonical hemodynamic response function (HRF) was used to model the activation time course.
The localizer scan always followed the action word experiment, in order not to bias the subjects' attention toward action-related aspects of the stimuli. Instructions on which extremity to move were presented visually on a computer screen. Instructions appeared on the screen for 21 s each and were repeated four times in pseudorandomized order. The predicted activation time course was modeled as a box-car function.

Acknowledgements
We are grateful to Matthew Brett and Matt Davis for their advice on data analysis; and to William Marslen-Wilson for comments on an earlier version of this paper. This work was supported by the Medical Research Council and the European Community under the Information Society Technologies Programme (IST-2001-35282).

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Corresponding author. Correspondence: Friedemann Pulvermüller, +44 1223 355294 ext. 741 (phone), +44 1223 359062 (fax)

Words in the brain’s language: An experimental investigation
Patrizia Setola, and Ronan G. Reilly
Department of Computer Science, NUI Maynooth, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland
Accepted 14 December 2004.  Available online 10 May 2005.

Abstract
According to Pulvermüller (1999), words are represented in the brain by cell assemblies (Hebb, 1949) distributed over different areas, depending on semantic properties of the word. For example, a word with strong visual associations will be represented by a cell assembly involving neurons in the visual cortex, while a word suggesting action will selectively activate neurons in the motor areas. The present work aims to test the latter hypothesis by means of behavioural measures. Specifically it tests the prediction that there should be a selective influence (in terms either of interference or priming) of performed/observed movements on the performance (reaction times and accuracy) of lexical decision involving words with a strong action association. Similarly, a selective influence of visual images on lexical decision involving words with strong visual associations should be observed. Two experiments were carried out. Results provided partial support for the hypothesis.

 

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