Verbal and Nonverbal Cues Activate Concepts Differently, at Different Times


Although the word “dog” and an unambiguous barking sound may point to the same concept DOG, verbal labels and nonverbal cues appear to activate conceptual information in systematically different ways (Lupyan & Thompson-Schill, 2012). Here we investigate these differences in more detail. We replicate the finding that labels activate a more prototypical representation than do sounds, and find that sounds activate exemplars consistent with the source of the sound, such that after hearing a barking sound, people are faster to recognize a dog with an open-mouth than a closed mouth, but critically, only when the sound and picture are presented simultaneously. The results are consistent with perceptual cues indexing their source while labels activating a more decontextualized representation of the target category.

Back to Table of Contents