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Title: Motion seen and understood : interactions between language comprehension and visual perception
Author: Meteyard, Lotte
ISNI:       0000 0004 2670 6669
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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Embodied theories of cognition state that the body plays a central role in cognitive representation. Under this description semantic representations, which constitute the meaning of words and sentences, are simulations of real experience that directly engage sensory and motor systems. This predicts interactions between comprehension and perception at low levels, since both engage the same systems, but the majority of evidence comes from picture judgements or visuo-spatial attention therefore it is not clear which visual processes are implicated. In addition, most of the work has concentrated on sentences rather than single words although theories predict that the semantics of both should be grounded in simulation. This investigation sought to systematically explore these interactions, using verbs that refer to upwards or downwards motion and sentences derived from the same set of verbs. As well as looking at visuo-spatial attention, we employed tasks routinely used in visual psychophysics that access low levels of motion processing. In this way we were able to separate different levels of visual processing and explore whether interactions between comprehension and perception were present when low level visual processes were assessed or manipulated. The results from this investigation show that: (1) There are bilateral interactions between low level visual processes and semantic content (lexical and sentential). (2) Interactions are automatic, arising whenever linguistic and visual stimuli are presented in close temporal contiguity. (3) Interactions are subject to processes within the visual system such as perceptual learning and suppression. (4) The precise content of semantic representations dictates which visual processes are implicated in interactions. The data is best explained by a close connection between semantic representation and perceptual systems when information from both is available it is automatically integrated. However, it does not support the direct and unmediated commitment of the visual system in the semantic representation of motion events. The results suggest a complex relationship between semantic representation and sensory-motor systems that can be explained by combining task specific processes with either strong or weak embodiment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available