Naming dynamic and static actions: neuropsychological evidence

J Physiol Paris. Jan-May 2008;102(1-3):80-94. doi: 10.1016/j.jphysparis.2008.03.008. Epub 2008 Mar 25.


There has been considerable interest in identifying the neural correlates of action naming, but the bulk of previous work on this topic has utilized static stimuli. Recent research comparing the visual processing of dynamic versus static actions suggests that these two types of stimuli engage largely overlapping neural systems, raising the possibility that the higher-order processing requirements for naming dynamic and static actions might not be very different. To explore this issue in greater depth, we developed the Dynamic Action Naming Test (DANT), which consists of 158 video clips 3-5s in length, for each of which the participant is asked to produce the most appropriate verb. We administered the DANT to 78 brain-damaged patients drawn from our Patient Registry, and to a demographically matched group of 50 normal participants. Out of the 16 patients who performed defectively on the DANT, nearly all (15/16) had damage in the left hemisphere. Lesion analysis indicated that the frontal operculum was the most frequent area of damage in the 15 patients; also, damage to the posterolateral temporal-occipital sector (in and near MT) was specifically related to defective dynamic action naming. Most of the brain-damaged participants (n=71) also received our Static Action Naming Test (SANT), and we found that performances on verb items that were common across the DANT and SANT were highly correlated (R=.91). Moreover, patients who failed the DANT almost invariably also failed the SANT. These findings lend further support to the hypothesis that there is considerable commonality in the neural systems underlying the use of verbs to orally name dynamic and static actions, a conclusion that is in turn compatible with the concept of "representational momentum". Our results also contribute more generally to the rapidly growing field of research on embodied cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Diseases / etiology
  • Brain Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Names
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology