NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ863011
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jan
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0277
The Shape of Words in the Brain
Kovic, Vanja; Plunkett, Kim; Westermann, Gert
Cognition, v114 n1 p19-28 Jan 2010
The principle of arbitrariness in language assumes that there is no intrinsic relationship between linguistic signs and their referents. However, a growing body of sound-symbolism research suggests the existence of some naturally-biased mappings between phonological properties of labels and perceptual properties of their referents (Maurer, Pathman, & Mondloch, 2006). We present new behavioural and neurophysiological evidence for the psychological reality of sound-symbolism. In a categorisation task that captures the processes involved in natural language interpretation, participants were faster to identify novel objects when label-object mappings were sound-symbolic than when they were not. Moreover, early negative EEG-waveforms indicated a sensitivity to sound-symbolic label-object associations (within 200 ms of object presentation), highlighting the non-arbitrary relation between the objects and the labels used to name them. This sensitivity to sound-symbolic label-object associations may reflect a more general process of auditory-visual feature integration where properties of auditory stimuli facilitate a mapping to specific visual features. (Contains 6 figures and 1 table.)
Elsevier. 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, FL 32887-4800. Tel: 877-839-7126; Tel: 407-345-4020; Fax: 407-363-1354; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A