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Role of Action in Object Semantic Organization – RAOSO

Role of action in object semantic organization

The projet raises the issue of the relations between perception, action and cognition. Object knowledge would be closely bound to sensorimotor experience

Evaluation of a model of action and object representation organization

The projet aims at testing a model of semantic knowledge organization based on action representations. This model is evaluated at the cognitive, developmental and cerebral levels in order to provide complementary responses to the question of manipulable object knowledge organization. Thanks to this complementary approach, results have both theoretical and implications (models of memory, education, neuropsychological rehabilitation).

The model will be assessed using innovative methods that guarantee an extremely fine measure of cognitive processes in various populations (adults, children, patients). These methods include eye-movement recording during cognitive tasks, elecroencephalography (EEG) and lesion-symptom mapping in brain-lesioned patients.

A developmental study shows that the types of object knowledge that rely most closely on sensorimotor experience (thematic and specific functional knowledge) are automatically reactivated during object identification from 6 years of age whereas activation of object knowledge that is less directly related to action (general functional knowledge) develops gradually between 6 and 10 years of age.
A neuroimaging (EEG) study indicates that perception of object-related actions is characterized by semantic temporal markers, which reflect access to knowledge about objects and their use during perception of manipulation movements.

A future line of studies will test the effect of seing manipulation movements on the activation of thematic and functional knowledge during object identification in both adults and children.
Another line will evaluate to what extent neural processing of thematic and functional knowledge recruits the same temporal markers as the ones involved during perception of object-related actions.
Finally, access to thematic and functional knowledge will be assessed in stroke patients in order to relate the deficits observed in thematic and functional knowledge with the other cognitive and action deficits presented by these patients.

Results form the conducted studies have been presented at the international conference CAOs (Concepts, Actions, Objects) in Italy in May 2013.

The present project raises the fundamental research question of the links between perception, action and cognition. Interest in the relationship between low-level perceptual and motor processes and complex intelligent behaviors has been growing in a wide variety of research domains over the past few years such as in philosophy, psychology, linguistics, robotics and neurosciences, and has coalesced into a movement known as the embodied cognition approach. According to this view, our knowledge about the world, as reflected by our ability to think, speak, remember or interact with objects or conspecifics, is closely tied to our perceptual and motor experience.

In line with previous work in the embodied cognition field, the project will test a model of semantic knowledge for manipulable artifact objects based on action representations. This model will be assessed at the cognitive, developmental and neural levels using innovative methods that guarantee an extremely fine measure of cognitive processes in various populations (adults, children, patients). These methods include eye-movement recording during cognitive tasks, elecroencephalography (EEG) and lesion-symptom mapping in patients. The findings obtained from each perspective (cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, neuropsychology and neurosciences) will provide complementary responses to the question of the organization of manipulable object knowledge. Moreover, because of this complementary approach, the achievement of this project will have strong implications at both the theoretical and applied levels. The cognitive approach will have a theoretical impact on models of semantic memory with a better understanding of the organization of manipulable object knowledge in memory. The developmental approach will have implications in the domain of education with the development of action-based exercises to help concept acquisition. The neuropsychological approach will have implication in the domain of neuropsychological rehabilitation with novel strategies to compensate cognitive deficits in brain-damaged patients.
More specifically, the present project will evaluate three main predictions derived from our theoretical model:
1) We will test whether object manipulation in various contexts can facilitate the access to different levels of semantic knowledge about common objects in normal adults.
2) We will assess whether manipulation in context can help the development of object semantic knowledge in children. We will specify the order of acquisition of different types of semantic knowledge and determine to what extend object manipulation can help children understanding the level of semantic knowledge that is the slowest to develop.
3) We will investigate the neural substrates of different levels of semantic knowledge and determine to what extent they overlap with specific action-related knowledge.

Taken together, the assessment of an action-based model of object semantic organization will provide a better understanding of the role of action in semantic knowledge structure and will therefore help specifying embodied views of cognition. Moreover, findings will lead to novel research perspectives in education and neuropsychological rehabilitation.

Project coordinator

SOLENE KALENINE (CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE - DELEGATION REGIONALE NORD-PAS-DE-CALAIS ET PICARDIE) – solene.kalenine@gmail.com

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

MESHS-URECA CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE - DELEGATION REGIONALE NORD-PAS-DE-CALAIS ET PICARDIE

Help of the ANR 450,800 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: November 2011 - 36 Months

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