Regarding the embodiment of language processing in adults, there is evidence of a close connection between sensorimotor brain areas and brain areas relevant to the processing of action verbs. This thesis is hotly debated and has therefore been thoroughly studied in adults. However, there are still questions concerning its development in children. The present study deals with the processing of action verbs in concrete and abstract sentences in 60 eleven-year-olds using a decision time paradigm. Sixty-five children mirrored arm movements or sat still and rated the semantic plausibility of sentences. The data of the current study suggest that eleven-year-olds are likely to misunderstand the meaning of action verbs in abstract contexts. Their decision times were faster and their error rates for action verbs in concrete sentences were lower. However, the gender of the children had a significant influence on the decision time and the number of errors, especially when processing abstract sentences. Females were more likely to benefit from an arm movement before the decision, while males were better if they sat still beforehand. Overall, children made quite a few errors when assessing the plausibility of sentences, but the female participants more often gave plausibility assessments that deviated from our expectations, especially when processing abstract sentences. It can be assumed that the embodiment of language processing plays some role in 11-year-old children, but is not yet as mature as it is in adults. Especially with regard to the processing of abstract language, the embodied system still has to change and mature in the course of child development.
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