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ERIC Number: EJ1180814
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018-May
Pages: 39
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0364-0213
Symbol Grounding without Direct Experience: Do Words Inherit Sensorimotor Activation from Purely Linguistic Context?
Günther, Fritz; Dudschig, Carolin; Kaup, Barbara
Cognitive Science, v42 suppl 2 p336-374 May 2018
Theories of embodied cognition assume that concepts are grounded in non-linguistic, sensorimotor experience. In support of this assumption, previous studies have shown that upwards response movements are faster than downwards movements after participants have been presented with words whose referents are typically located in the upper vertical space (and vice versa for downwards responses). This is taken as evidence that processing these words reactivates sensorimotor experiential traces. This congruency effect was also found for novel words, after participants learned these words as labels for novel objects that they encountered either in their upper or lower visual field. While this indicates that direct experience with a word's referent is sufficient to evoke said congruency effects, the present study investigates whether this direct experience is also a necessary condition. To this end, we conducted five experiments in which participants learned novel words from purely linguistic input: Novel words were presented in pairs with real up- or down-words (Experiment 1); they were presented in natural sentences where they replaced these real words (Experiment 2); they were presented as new labels for these real words (Experiment 3); and they were presented as labels for novel combined concepts based on these real words (Experiment 4 and 5). In all five experiments, we did not find any congruency effects elicited by the novel words; however, participants were always able to make correct explicit judgements about the vertical dimension associated to the novel words. These results suggest that direct experience is necessary for reactivating experiential traces, but this reactivation is not a necessary condition for understanding (in the sense of storing and accessing) the corresponding aspects of word meaning.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A