Perceptual simulation in developing language comprehension

Jan A. A. Engelen*, Samantha Bouwmeester, Anique B. H. de Bruin, Rolf A. Zwaan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

We tested an embodied account of language proposing that comprehenders create perceptual simulations of the events they hear and read about. In Experiment 1, children (ages 7-13 years) performed a picture verification task. Each picture was preceded by a prerecorded spoken sentence describing an entity whose shape or orientation matched or mismatched the depicted object. Responses were faster for matching pictures, suggesting that participants had formed perceptual-like situation models of the sentences. The advantage for matching pictures did not increase with age. Experiment 2 extended these findings to the domain of written language. Participants (ages 7-10 years) of high and low word reading ability verified pictures after reading sentences aloud. The results suggest that even when reading is effortful, children construct a perceptual simulation of the described events. We propose that perceptual simulation plays a more central role in developing language comprehension than was previously thought. (C) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-675
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume110
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Language comprehension
  • Embodied cognition
  • Perceptual simulation
  • Language development
  • Word reading
  • Reading comprehension
  • LATENT SEMANTIC ANALYSIS
  • WORKING-MEMORY
  • INDIVIDUAL-DIFFERENCES
  • READING-COMPREHENSION
  • SITUATION MODELS
  • REPRESENTATION
  • OBJECTS
  • SPAN
  • CONSTRAINTS
  • ORIENTATION

Cite this

Engelen, Jan A. A. ; Bouwmeester, Samantha ; de Bruin, Anique B. H. ; Zwaan, Rolf A. / Perceptual simulation in developing language comprehension. In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 2011 ; Vol. 110, No. 4. pp. 659-675.
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Perceptual simulation in developing language comprehension. / Engelen, Jan A. A.; Bouwmeester, Samantha; de Bruin, Anique B. H.; Zwaan, Rolf A.

In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Vol. 110, No. 4, 12.2011, p. 659-675.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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AB - We tested an embodied account of language proposing that comprehenders create perceptual simulations of the events they hear and read about. In Experiment 1, children (ages 7-13 years) performed a picture verification task. Each picture was preceded by a prerecorded spoken sentence describing an entity whose shape or orientation matched or mismatched the depicted object. Responses were faster for matching pictures, suggesting that participants had formed perceptual-like situation models of the sentences. The advantage for matching pictures did not increase with age. Experiment 2 extended these findings to the domain of written language. Participants (ages 7-10 years) of high and low word reading ability verified pictures after reading sentences aloud. The results suggest that even when reading is effortful, children construct a perceptual simulation of the described events. We propose that perceptual simulation plays a more central role in developing language comprehension than was previously thought. (C) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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