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Title: Simulating speed in language : contributions from vision, audition and action
Author: Speed, L. J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5365 8244
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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Embodied theories propose that understanding meaning in language requires the mental simulation of entities being referred to. These mental simulations would make use of the same modality-specific systems involved in perceiving and acting upon such entities in the world, grounding language in the real world. However, embodied theories are currently underspecified in terms of how much information from an event is contained in mental simulations, and what features of experience are included. The thesis addresses comprehension of language that describes speed of events. Investigating speed allows embodied theories to be extended to a more complex feature of events. Further, speed is a fine-grained feature and thus testing an embodied theory of speed will reveal whether or not mental simulations include the fine details of real-world experience. Within the thesis four main methods of investigation were used, assessing simulation of speed with different types of speed language under different conditions: behavioural testing combining speed in language with speed in perception and action, eye-tracking investigating whether eye-movements to a visual scene are affected by speed in sentences, a psychophysics paradigm assessing whether speed in language affects visual perception processes, and finally, as a crucial test of embodiment, whether or not Parkinson’s patients, who have difficulty moving speedily, also have problems with comprehension of speed language. The main findings of the thesis are that: (1) speed, a fine-grained and abstract dimension, is simulated during comprehension, (2) simulations are dynamic and context-dependent, and (3) simulations of speed are specific to biological motion and can encode specific effectors used in an action. These results help to specify current embodied theories in terms of what the nature of simulations are and what factors they are sensitive to, in addition to broadly providing support for the sharing of cognitive/neural processes between language, action and perception.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available