Perceptual simulation in conceptual combination: evidence from property generation

Wu, L.-l. and Barsalou, L. W. (2009) Perceptual simulation in conceptual combination: evidence from property generation. Acta Psychologica, 132(2), pp. 173-189. (doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2009.02.002) (PMID:19298949)

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In three experiments, participants received nouns or noun phrases for objects and verbally generated their properties (“feature listing”). Several sources of evidence indicated that participants constructed perceptual simulations to generate properties for the noun phrases during conceptual combination. First, the production of object properties for noun phrases depended on occlusion, with unoccluded properties being generated more often than occluded properties. Because a perceptual variable affected conceptual combination, perceptual simulations appeared central to combining the concepts for modifiers and head nouns. Second, neutral participants produced the same distributions of properties as participants instructed to describe images, suggesting that the conceptual representations used by neutral participants were similar to the mental images used by imagery participants. Furthermore, the property distributions for neutral and imagery participants differed from those for participants instructed to produce word associations. Third, participants produced large amounts of information about background situations associated with the object cues, suggesting that the simulations used to generate properties were situated. The experiments ruled out alternative explanations that simulation effects occur only for familiar noun phrases associated with perceptual memories and that rules associated with modifiers produce occlusion effects. A process model of the property generation task grounded in simulation mechanisms is presented. The possibility of integrating the simulation account of conceptual combination with traditional accounts and well-established findings is explored.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Barsalou, Professor Lawrence
Authors: Wu, L.-l., and Barsalou, L. W.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:Acta Psychologica
Publisher:Elsevier B.V.
ISSN (Online):1873-6297

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