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Zwaan, R. A., Madden, C. J., Yaxley, R. H., & Aveyard, M. E. (2004). Moving words: dynamic reprensentations in language comprehension. Cognitive Science, 28, 611-619.

  author = 	 {Zwaan, Rolf A. and Madden, Carol J. and Yaxley, R. H. and Aveyard, Mark E.},
  title = 	 {Moving words: dynamic representations in language comprehension},
  journal = 	 {Cognitive Science},
  year = 	 {2004},    
  volume = 	 {28},
  pages = 	 {611--619}

Author of the summary: Sebastien Ouellet, 2011, souelle3@connect.carleton.ca

Cite this paper for:

This paper mainly discusses a study demonstrating that language comprehension can simulates motion perception such that listening to sentences which matched a sequence of pictures would help the participants identify faster a corresponding motion.

Papers (such as Loftus and Palmer, 1974) about relationships between visual representations and language comprehension are discussed briefly in the introduction. They are used to show that there is evidence indicating that visual representations can be activated trough language. This paper is inspired by those findings.

There is a short discussion of dynamic representations, stating how representational momentum is influenced by language comprehension and that there is neuroscientific evidence for such claims.[p.2]

The findings in the studies cited about language comprehension activating perceptual representations go against the predictions given by the amodal theories of cognition.[p.3]

The main prediction for the study of the paper, based on the previous papers discussed in the introduction, stated that the visual perception of a motion event would be identified faster if a sentence describing an analogous motion was heard before the display of the event, compared to an event where the motion would not match the sentence.[p.3]

The sentences were not describing the pictures, so that their content, about what was being moved and the setting in which it was being moved, was irrelevant to the sequence.

82 participants were involved in the study, completing it through a computer. A sentence was played and a sequence of two pictures, separated by a mask, was then shown, finally asking if the objects in the picture were the same.[p.4]

The illusion of motion was produced by two pictures of a ball, the second picture depicting a slightly larger or smaller ball.

Reaction time was measured as evidence for a relationship between the sentence heard and the two pictures shown in the sequence. The reaction times were lower when the sentence and the sequence of pictures matched (the motion produced with different sizes was analogous to the motion described linguistically) compared to cases where they mismatched.[p.6]

There were no significant differences between the two motion depicted (away or toward) in terms of accurary or reaction times.[p.6]

The accuracy of the answers were not influenced by language comprehension since the effects measured were not significant (p>.10).[p.6]

A possible explanation is that a linguistic perceptual event, such as the sentence, will produce a simulation which can be compared easily to a representation produced by another type of perceptual event, visual in this case.[p.7]

A main claim is that, while dynamic mental representations are often stimulated in studies with the help of a visual display depicting a clear motion with multiple pictures, the study here achieve similar representations linguistically.[p.7]

There is a comparison between this study and an earlier one, both tackling motion representation through verbal cues. Two differences are made, such that, in the present study, no motion was apparent from the pictures and there were experimental conditions which prevented participants from associating the moving object of the sentence with the pictured object.[p.7]

In the compared study (Reed & Wilson, 1996), participants were encouraged to interpret the pictures with the verbal stimuli.[p.7]

Because there were no immediate relationships between the sentences and the sequences of pictures, this study presents evidence which is more clear than what the previous studies offered.[p.8]

The results of the present studies support earlier findings about the interplay between language comprehension and dynamic mental representation.[p.8]

Given what was achieved in this research, an interpretation of results from a previous study (Loftus and Palmer, 1974) is possible. Accordingly to the intensity associated with each verb used, the verbal components generated a simulation of the motion implied before the actual scene was evaluated.[p.8]

Perceptual simulations will interfere with memories if they are produced before the memories are retrieved.[p.8]

Summary author's notes:

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