Action-verb processing in Parkinson's disease: New pathways for motor-language coupling

Juan Felipe Cardona, Oscar Gershanik, Carlos Gelormini-Lezama, Alexander Lee Houck, Sebastian Cardona, Lucila Kargieman, Natalia Trujillo, Analía Arévalo, Lucia Amoruso, Facundo Manes, Agustín Ibáñez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies suggest that action-verb processing is particularly affected in early stage Parkinson's disease (PD), highlighting the potential role of subcortical areas in language processing and in the semantic integration of actions. However, this disorder-related language impairment is frequently unrecognized by clinicians and often remains untreated. Early detection of action-language processing deficits could be critical for diagnosing and developing treatment strategies for PD. In this article, we review how action-verb processing is affected in PD and propose a model in which multiple and parallel frontotemporal circuits between the cortex and the basal ganglia provide the anatomic substrate for supporting action-language processing. We hypothesize that contextual coupling of action-language networks are partially dependent on cortical-subcortical integration, and not only on somatotopic motor cortical organization or in a mirror neuron system. This hypothesis is supported by both experimental and clinical evidence. Then, we identify further research steps that would help to determine the reliability of action-language impairments as an early marker of PD. Finally, theoretical implications for clinical assessment and for models of action-language interaction (action-perception cycle theories, mirror system models of language, and embodied cognition approaches to language) are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1355-1373
Number of pages19
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Action-verb processing
  • Basal ganglia
  • Mirror neurons
  • Motor-language coupling
  • Parkinson's disease

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