How words activate our bodily experience

Hauk, O. e. (2004). Somatotopic representation of action words in human motor and premotor cortex. PubMed, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

Words activate precisely specific neurons in the brain and, therewith, the associated responses. The British neuroscientistOlaf Hauk and his colleagues studied using an fMRI of native English speakers with regard to their responses to three similarly sounding words: To pick (pick with the hand), to lick (lick with the tongue) and to kick (kick with the feet).

For each professional communicator, it is interesting to know how specific words activate quite specific neurons in the brain and the responses associated therewith. The British neuroscientist Olaf Hauk studied, along with his team, in a neuroimaging-method the effect of three words: “pick” (pick with the hands), “lick” and “kick” (Hauk, 2004) on the brain of English speaking test subjects. Although the English words sound similar to the ear, each word lights up exactly the accurate representation of that body part in the brain: the area for the hand in case of the word “pick”, the area for the tongue in case of the word “lick” and accordingly the area for the foot in case of the word “kick”. Thus, specific words activate our bodily experience.