Auditory verb perception recruits motor systems in the developing brain: an fMRI investigation


Karin Harman James, 1101 East 10th Street, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA; e-mail:


This study investigated neural activation patterns during verb processing in children, using fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging). Preschool children (aged 4–6) passively listened to lists of verbs and adjectives while neural activation was measured. Findings indicated that verbs were processed differently than adjectives, as the verbs recruited motor systems in the frontal cortex during auditory perception, but the adjectives did not. Further evidence suggested that different types of verbs activated different regions in the motor cortex. The results demonstrate that the motor system is recruited during verb perception in the developing brain, reflecting the embodied nature of language learning and processing.