Previous research suggests that thematic roles of agent and patient are conceptualized spatially, with the action represented by default as proceeding from left to right. The left and right spatial domains are usually coded with reference to the hands and their position relative to the body midline. We describe two experiments that investigate the effect of crossing the hands over the body midline on online processing of active and passive sentences. Our findings indicate that the crossed-hand posture interacts with verb reading times in active sentence processing. The mismatch between the right-to-left spatial coordinates encoded in the crossed-hand posture and the left-to-right spatial bias in comprehending active sentences induces higher response times. These results suggest that proprioceptive information and body-centered spatial representations play a modulatory role in processing linguistic stimuli.
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