Coming of age: A review of embodiment and the neuroscience of semantics

Lotte Meteyard, Sara Rodriguez-Cuadrado, Bahador Bahrami, Gabriella Vigliocco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

553 Citations (Scopus)


Over the last decade, there has been an increasing body of work that explores whether sensory and motor information is a necessary part of semantic representation and processing. This is the embodiment hypothesis. This paper presents a theoretical review of this work that is intended to be useful for researchers in the neurosciences and neuropsychology. Beginning with a historical perspective, relevant theories are placed on a continuum from strongly embodied to completely unembodied representations. Predictions are derived and neuroscientific and neuropsychological evidence that could support different theories is reviewed; finally, criticisms of embodiment are discussed. We conclude that strongly embodied and completely disembodied theories are not supported, and that the remaining theories agree that semantic representation involves some form of convergence zones (Damasio, 1989) and the activation of modal content. For the future, research must carefully define the boundaries of semantic processing and tackle the representation of abstract entities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)788-804
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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