On the road to … somewhere? Change-blindness in event description tasks is informative about the interrelation between visual perception and language planning


The visual processing of complex event stimuli and the planning of utterances to describe them happen rapidly and partly overlap in time, posing a challenge to researchers on vision and language: How exactly do the processes interact? As a test case we investigate how sudden content-changes in visual scenes affect speakers of different languages. In a novel approach, we elicit event descriptions from naturalistic video stimuli of motion events consisting of two segments (240ms each), each followed by a mask (80ms). A potential change-blindness situation regarding the presence/absence of the goal of motion is created. We exploit typological differences between French and German regarding the verbal encoding of goal-orientation. Analyses of the linguistic data (content and timing) reveals a language-specific effect regarding how subjects accommodate to seemingly unnoticed changes (e.g., distribution of hesitations, temporal onsets of words). Furthermore, we find differences in overt change detection frequency depending on conditions.

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