Over the past 15 years, there have been two increasingly popular approaches to the study of meaning in cognitive science. One, based on theories of embodied cognition, treats meaning as a simulation of perceptual and motor states. An alternative approach treats meaning as a consequence of the statistical distribution of words across spoken and written language. On the surface, these appear to be opposing scientific paradigms. In this review, we aim to show how recent cross-disciplinary developments have done much to (...) reconcile these two approaches. The foundation to these developments has been the recognition that intralinguistic distributional and sensory-motor data are interdependent. We describe recent work in philosophy, psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and computational modeling that are all based on or consistent with this conclusion. We conclude by considering some possible directions for future research that arise as a consequence of these developments. (shrink)
This study investigates how speed of motion is processed in language. In three eye-tracking experiments, participants were presented with visual scenes and spoken sentences describing fast or slow events (e.g., The lion ambled/dashed to the balloon). Results showed that looking time to relevant objects in the visual scene was affected by the speed of verb of the sentence, speaking rate, and configuration of a supporting visual scene. The results provide novel evidence for the mental simulation of speed in language and (...) show that internal dynamic simulations can be played out via eye movements toward a static visual scene. (shrink)
We discuss two key assumptions of Levelt et al.'s model of lexical retrieval: (1) the nondecompositional character of concepts and (2) lemmas as purely syntactic representations. These assumptions fail to capture the broader role of lemmas, which we propose as that of lexical–semantic representations binding (compositional) semantics with phonology (or orthography).
Previous studies show that reading sentences about actions leads to specific motor activity associated with actually performing those actions. We investigate how sign language input may modulate motor activation, using British Sign Language sentences, some of which explicitly encode direction of motion, versus written English, where motion is only implied. We find no evidence of action simulation in BSL comprehension, but we find effects of action simulation in comprehension of written English sentences by deaf native BSL signers. These results provide (...) constraints on the nature of mental simulations involved in comprehending action sentences referring to transfer events, suggesting that the richer contextual information provided by BSL sentences versus written or spoken English may reduce the need for action simulation in comprehension, at least when the event described does not map completely onto the signer's own body. (shrink)
Dual-mechanism models of language maintain a distinction between a lexicon and a computational system of linguistic rules. In his target article, Clahsen provides support for such a distinction, presenting evidence from German inflections. He argues for a structured lexicon, going beyond the strict lexicon versus rules dichotomy. We agree with the author in assuming a dual mechanism; however, we argue that a next step must be taken, going beyond the notion of the computational system as specific rules applying to a (...) linguistic domain. By assuming a richer lexicon, the computational system can be conceived as a more general binding process that applies to different linguistic levels: syntax, morphology, reading, and spelling. (shrink)
Speakers retrieve words to use them in sentences. Errors in incorporating words into sentential frames are revealing with respect to the lexical units as well as the lexical retrieval mechanism; hence they constrain theories of lexical access. We present a reanalysis of a corpus of spontaneously occurring lexical exchange errors that highlights the contact points between lexical and sentential processes.