How sound symbolism is processed in the brain: A study on Japanese mimetic words

Junko Kanero, Mutsumi Imai, Jiro Okuda, Hiroyuki Okada, Tetsuya Matsuda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sound symbolism is the systematic and non-arbitrary link between word and meaning. Although a number of behavioral studies demonstrate that both children and adults are universally sensitive to sound symbolism in mimetic words, the neural mechanisms underlying this phenomenon have not yet been extensively investigated. The present study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate how Japanese mimetic words are processed in the brain. In Experiment 1, we compared processing for motion mimetic words with that for non-sound symbolic motion verbs and adverbs. Mimetic words uniquely activated the right posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS). In Experiment 2, we further examined the generalizability of the findings from Experiment 1 by testing another domain: shape mimetics. Our results show that the right posterior STS was active when subjects processed both motion and shape mimetic words, thus suggesting that this area may be the primary structure for processing sound symbolism. Increased activity in the right posterior STS may also reflect how sound symbolic words function as both linguistic and non-linguistic iconic symbols.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere97905
JournalPLoS One
Volume9
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014 May 19

Fingerprint

Brain
Temporal Lobe
Acoustic waves
brain
magnetic resonance imaging
Experiments
Linguistics
Processing
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Testing
testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

How sound symbolism is processed in the brain : A study on Japanese mimetic words. / Kanero, Junko; Imai, Mutsumi; Okuda, Jiro; Okada, Hiroyuki; Matsuda, Tetsuya.

In: PLoS One, Vol. 9, No. 5, e97905, 19.05.2014.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Kanero, Junko ; Imai, Mutsumi ; Okuda, Jiro ; Okada, Hiroyuki ; Matsuda, Tetsuya. / How sound symbolism is processed in the brain : A study on Japanese mimetic words. In: PLoS One. 2014 ; Vol. 9, No. 5.
@article{27aa4b7827ce410292cf045f685154d7,
title = "How sound symbolism is processed in the brain: A study on Japanese mimetic words",
abstract = "Sound symbolism is the systematic and non-arbitrary link between word and meaning. Although a number of behavioral studies demonstrate that both children and adults are universally sensitive to sound symbolism in mimetic words, the neural mechanisms underlying this phenomenon have not yet been extensively investigated. The present study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate how Japanese mimetic words are processed in the brain. In Experiment 1, we compared processing for motion mimetic words with that for non-sound symbolic motion verbs and adverbs. Mimetic words uniquely activated the right posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS). In Experiment 2, we further examined the generalizability of the findings from Experiment 1 by testing another domain: shape mimetics. Our results show that the right posterior STS was active when subjects processed both motion and shape mimetic words, thus suggesting that this area may be the primary structure for processing sound symbolism. Increased activity in the right posterior STS may also reflect how sound symbolic words function as both linguistic and non-linguistic iconic symbols.",
author = "Junko Kanero and Mutsumi Imai and Jiro Okuda and Hiroyuki Okada and Tetsuya Matsuda",
year = "2014",
month = "5",
day = "19",
doi = "10.1371/journal.pone.0097905",
language = "English",
volume = "9",
journal = "PLoS One",
issn = "1932-6203",
publisher = "Public Library of Science",
number = "5",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - How sound symbolism is processed in the brain

T2 - A study on Japanese mimetic words

AU - Kanero, Junko

AU - Imai, Mutsumi

AU - Okuda, Jiro

AU - Okada, Hiroyuki

AU - Matsuda, Tetsuya

PY - 2014/5/19

Y1 - 2014/5/19

N2 - Sound symbolism is the systematic and non-arbitrary link between word and meaning. Although a number of behavioral studies demonstrate that both children and adults are universally sensitive to sound symbolism in mimetic words, the neural mechanisms underlying this phenomenon have not yet been extensively investigated. The present study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate how Japanese mimetic words are processed in the brain. In Experiment 1, we compared processing for motion mimetic words with that for non-sound symbolic motion verbs and adverbs. Mimetic words uniquely activated the right posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS). In Experiment 2, we further examined the generalizability of the findings from Experiment 1 by testing another domain: shape mimetics. Our results show that the right posterior STS was active when subjects processed both motion and shape mimetic words, thus suggesting that this area may be the primary structure for processing sound symbolism. Increased activity in the right posterior STS may also reflect how sound symbolic words function as both linguistic and non-linguistic iconic symbols.

AB - Sound symbolism is the systematic and non-arbitrary link between word and meaning. Although a number of behavioral studies demonstrate that both children and adults are universally sensitive to sound symbolism in mimetic words, the neural mechanisms underlying this phenomenon have not yet been extensively investigated. The present study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate how Japanese mimetic words are processed in the brain. In Experiment 1, we compared processing for motion mimetic words with that for non-sound symbolic motion verbs and adverbs. Mimetic words uniquely activated the right posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS). In Experiment 2, we further examined the generalizability of the findings from Experiment 1 by testing another domain: shape mimetics. Our results show that the right posterior STS was active when subjects processed both motion and shape mimetic words, thus suggesting that this area may be the primary structure for processing sound symbolism. Increased activity in the right posterior STS may also reflect how sound symbolic words function as both linguistic and non-linguistic iconic symbols.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84901373482&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84901373482&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1371/journal.pone.0097905

DO - 10.1371/journal.pone.0097905

M3 - Article

C2 - 24840874

AN - SCOPUS:84901373482

VL - 9

JO - PLoS One

JF - PLoS One

SN - 1932-6203

IS - 5

M1 - e97905

ER -