How quickly are different kinds of conceptual knowledge activated in action picture naming? Using a masked priming paradigm, we manipulated the prime category type (artificial vs. natural), prime action type (precision, power, vs. neutral grip), and target action type (precision vs. power grip) in action picture naming, while electrophysiological signals were measured concurrently. Naming latencies showed an inhibition effect in the congruent action type condition compared with the neutral condition. ERP results showed that artificial and natural category primes induced smaller waveforms in precision or power action primes than neutral primes in the time window of 100–200 msec. Time–frequency results consistently presented a power desynchronization of the mu rhythm in the time window of 0–210 msec with precision action type artificial objects compared with neutral primes, which localized at the supplementary motor, precentral and postcentral areas in the left hemisphere. These findings suggest an inhibitory effect of affordances arising at conceptual preparation in action picture naming and provide evidence for embodied cognition.

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