Motion in Vision and Language: Seeing Visual Motion can influence Processing of Motion Verbs


In contrast to symbolic models of language understanding, embodied models of language comprehension suggest that language is closely connected with visual and motor processing. In the current study we show that motion words, such as rise or fall, are processed faster if displayed against a background of compatible motion (e.g., upward vs. downward random dot motion with 60% motion coherence). However, this interaction between semantic processing and visual processing only occurred if the word and the motion display were presented simultaneously. If the visual motion display was short-lived and occurred 100 or 200 ms after word-onset, no interactions between language and visual motion were found. We suggest that only in situations that do not allow ignoring or strategically suppressing the visual motion display, supra-threshold visual motion can affect language comprehension.

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