Head up, foot down: object words orient attention to the objects' typical location

Estes, Z., Verges, M. and Barsalou, L. W. (2008) Head up, foot down: object words orient attention to the objects' typical location. Psychological Science, 19(2), pp. 93-97. (doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02051.x) (PMID:18271853)

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.


Many objects typically occur in particular locations, and object words encode these spatial associations. We tested whether such object words (e.g., head, foot) orient attention toward the location where the denoted object typically occurs (i.e., up, down). Because object words elicit perceptual simulations of the denoted objects (i.e., the representations acquired during actual perception are reactivated), we predicted that an object word would interfere with identification of an unrelated visual target subsequently presented in the object's typical location. Consistent with this prediction, three experiments demonstrated that words denoting objects that typically occur high in the visual field hindered identification of targets appearing at the top of the display, whereas words denoting low objects hindered target identification at the bottom of the display. Thus, object words oriented attention to and activated perceptual simulations in the objects' typical locations. These results shed new light on how language affects perception.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Barsalou, Professor Lawrence
Authors: Estes, Z., Verges, M., and Barsalou, L. W.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:Psychological Science
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1467-9280

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record