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Abstract

Two experiments explored the existence and the development of relations between action representations and object representations. A priming paradigm was used in which participants viewed an action pantomime followed by the picture of a tool, the tool being either associated or unassociated with the preceding action. Overall, we observed that the perception of an action pantomime can facilitate the recognition of a corresponding tool. Experiment 1 was based on a naming task and was conducted with 9- to 12-year-old children and a group of young adults. While substantial priming effects were obtained for all age groups, they were especially important for the youngest participants. Smaller priming effects were obtained in Experiment 2, using a categorization task and conducted on 5- to 11-year-old children and young adults, but again the results suggest that these action priming effects diminish with increasing age. Implications of these results for the organization and development of conceptual knowledge are discussed.