Movement Speed Affects Speed Language Comprehension

AbstractComprehending action language recruits the action system. But it is unclear to what extent action simulations reflect the fine-grained parameters of real world action. We investigate whether action simulations during sentence comprehension are sensitive to speed of an action. In two experiments, participants completed a motor task in which they moved slowly or quickly, followed by a sentence sensibility task. We found an overall action effect for sentences describing hand actions: moving slowly increased accuracy (Experiment 1) and reduced response time (Experiment 2). For sentences describing full-body actions, responses were more accurate when movement speed matched the speed implied in the sentence, in Experiment 1 only. This study demonstrates online action simulation and provides evidence that speed of action can be simulated during sentence comprehension.

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