Switching Between Sensory and Affective Systems Incurs Processing Costs

Cognitive Science 31 (1):183-192 (2007)
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Abstract

Recent models of the conceptual system hold that concepts are grounded in simulations of actual experiences with instances of those concepts in sensory-motor systems (e.g., Barsalou, 1999, 2003; Solomon & Barsalou, 2001). Studies supportive of such a viewhave shown that verifying a property of a concept in one modality, and then switching to verify a property of a different concept in a different modality generates temporal processing costs similar to the cost of switching modalities in perception. In addition to non-emotional concepts, the present experiment investigated switching costs in verifying properties of positive and negative (emotional) concepts. Properties of emotional concepts were taken from vision, audition, and the affective system. Parallel to switching costs in neutral concepts, the study showed that for positive and negative concepts, verifying properties from different modalities produced processing costs such that reaction times were longer and error rates were higher. Importantly, this effect was observed when switching from the affective system to sensory modalities, and vice-versa. These results support the embodied cognition view of emotion in humans.

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