When Do Understanders Mentally Simulate Locations?

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2009-11-01
Authors
Liu, Nian
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University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics
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2009
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Abstract
A leading embodied account of language processing proposes that comprehending a piece of language en-tails performing mental simulations of its content. Experimental studies have shown that understanders mentally simulate aspects of space, including axis of motion and location along the vertical axis. However, one widely cited study (Glenberg and Kaschak 2002) found that no evidence that processing sentences about motion towards or away from the body activated spatial representations of the corresponding loca-tions, whether the motion was concrete or abstract. If this is true, it poses a substantial challenge to simula-tion-based theories of language understanding. I conducted an experiment that replicated most of Glenberg and Kaschak’s method, in an attempt to determine under what conditions understanders mentally simulate the locations of described events. Results showed, first, that progressive sentences appear to induce more mental simulation, including simulation of spatial location, than perfect sentences do. And second, people mentally simulate the locations implied by concrete and abstract language differently.
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linguistics
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Liu, Nian. 2009. When Do Understanders Mentally Simulate Locations?. University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Working Papers in Linguistics 40(8).
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Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License
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