[CaBSSem] Cognition & Brain Sciences Seminar: Fri Nov 10, Daniel Bub (UVic)

Jordana Wynn jordwynn at uvic.ca
Mon Nov 6 09:56:08 PST 2023

The Cognition and Brain Science Seminar (CaBSSem) next meets this Friday at 3:00pm in the Psychology Reading Room (Cornett A228) featuring Dr. Daniel Bub (UVic) speaking on "The role of motor representations in naming tools and utensils" (abstract below).

Many attend FTF, but we also livestream sessions at


For students/faculty at UVic, best practice is to launch the Zoom app and then click "Sign in with SSO" so that you access the call from the UVic Zoom.

Schedule at https://www.wynnlab.org/cabssem

Hope to see you Friday!

The role of motor representations in naming tools and utensils.

A consistent result in functional imaging research is that naming objects with handles (i.e. tools and utensils) - or even merely gazing at such objects - triggers activation in motor cortical regions.  It is tempting to conjecture the following given this replicable outcome:  the reason for the activation of motor representations is that functional knowledge is crucial to identifying tools.  Knowing how to use an object like a teapot or a hammer is an essential component of what is meant when we say that we know the function of this object.  Thus, identifying a tool or utensil inevitably requires activation of pragmatic knowledge (i.e. the knowledge of how to use such objects).  A further result, however, is directly at odds with this inference.  Damage to the left parietal lobe results in ideational apraxia, the inability to demonstrate the use of a tool or utensil.  The impairment is striking, as can be seen in a video I will present.  Despite normal dexterity, cases of ideational apraxia when asked to demonstrate how they would use a pen or a hammer, for example, are unable to reproduce the grasp posture associated with writing or the posture needed to grasp a hammer.  Nevertheless, naming tools and utensils appears to be completely intact in such cases.  How do we reconcile this paradox?  I will present three explanations in a recent review offered by Alex Martin who was the first to show motor cortical activation induced when tools are named or passively viewed.  I will argue that none of these explanations are satisfactory.  I will then introduce evidence and a theoretical framework that accounts for the role that pragmatic knowledge plays in naming tools/utensils. This explanation suggests an interesting and testable account of  how naming tools in ideational apraxia differs from naming such objects in neurologically intact individuals.

Jordana Wynn, Ph.D
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
University of Victoria

Pronouns: She/ Her

I acknowledge and respect the lək̓ʷəŋən peoples on whose traditional territory the university stands and the Songhees, Esquimalt and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.
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