The neural correlates of visualization underlying word comprehension were examined in preschool children. On each trial, a concrete or abstract word was delivered binaurally (part 1: post-auditory visualization), followed by a four-picture array (a target plus three distractors; part 2: matching visualization). Children were to select the picture matching the word they heard in part 1. Event-related potentials (ERPs) locked to each stimulus presentation and task interval were averaged over sets of trials of increasing word abstractness. ERP time-course during both parts of the task showed that early activity (i.e., <300 ms) was predominant in response to concrete words, while activity in response to abstract words became evident only at intermediate (i.e., 300-699 ms) and late (i.e., 700-1000 ms) ERP intervals. Specifically, ERP topography showed that while early activity during post-auditory visualization was linked to left temporo-parietal areas for concrete words, early activity during matching visualization occurred mostly in occipito-parietal areas for concrete words, but more anteriorly in centro-parietal areas for abstract words. In intermediate ERPs, post-auditory visualization coincided with parieto- occipital and parieto-frontal activity in response to both concrete and abstract words, while in matching visualization a parieto-central activity was common to both types of words. In the late ERPs for both types of words, the post-auditory visualization involved right-hemispheric activity following a "post-anterior" pathway sequence: occipital, parietal, and temporal areas; conversely, matching visualization involved left-hemispheric activity following an "ant-posterior" pathway sequence: frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital areas. These results suggest that, similarly, for concrete and abstract words, meaning in young children depends on variably complex visualization processes integrating visuo-auditory experiences and supramodal embodying representations.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Embodied cognition, ERPs, Preschool children, Visual mental imagery, Visualization, Word processing
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00856
Journal Frontiers in Psychology
Note This Document is Protected by copyright and was first published by Frontiers. All rights reserved. it is reproduced with permission.
Citation
D'Angiulli, A, Griffiths, G. (Gordon), & Marmolejo-Ramos, F. (Fernando). (2015). Neural correlates of visualizations of concrete and abstract words in preschool children: A developmental embodied approach. Frontiers in Psychology, 6. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00856