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Language as a tool : motor proficiency using a tool predicts individual linguistic abilities.

Brozzoli, Claudio and Roy, Alice C. and Lidborg, Linda H. and Lövdén, Martin (2019) 'Language as a tool : motor proficiency using a tool predicts individual linguistic abilities.', Frontiers in psychology., 10 . p. 1639.


Different disciplines converge to trace language evolution from motor skills. The human ability to use tools has been advocated as a fundamental step toward the emergence of linguistic processes in the brain. Neuropsychological and neuroimaging research has established that linguistic functions and tool-use are mediated by partially overlapping brain networks. Yet, scholars still theoretically debate whether the relationship between tool-use and language is contingent or functionally relevant, since empirical evidence is critically missing. Here, we measured both linguistic production and tool-use abilities in the same participants, as well as manual and linguistic motor skills. A path analysis ruling out unspecific contributions from manual or linguistic motor skills, showed that motor proficiency using a tool lawfully predicts differences in individual linguistic production. In addition, more complex tool-use reveals stronger association between linguistic production and tool mastery. These findings establish the existence of shared cognitive processes between tool-use and language.

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Publisher statement:© 2019 Brozzoli, Roy, Lidborg and Lövdén. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Date accepted:28 June 2019
Date deposited:02 August 2019
Date of first online publication:16 July 2019
Date first made open access:02 August 2019

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