Spatial Representations Elicit Dual-Coding Effects in Mental Imagery

Authors


should be sent to Michelle Verges, Department of Psychology, Indiana University, 1700 Mishawaka Avenue, P.O. Box 7111, South Bend, IN 46634. E-mail: mverges@iusb.edu

Abstract

Spatial aspects of words are associated with their canonical locations in the real world. Yet little research has tested whether spatial associations denoted in language comprehension generalize to their corresponding images. We directly tested the spatial aspects of mental imagery in picture and word processing (Experiment 1). We also tested whether spatial representations of motion words produce similar perceptual-interference effects as demonstrated by object words (Experiment 2). Findings revealed that words denoting an upward spatial location produced slower responses to targets appearing at the top of the display, whereas words denoting a downward spatial location produced slower responses to targets appearing at the bottom of the display. Perceptual-interference effects did not obtain for pictures or for words lacking a spatial relation. These findings provide greater empirical support for the perceptual-symbols system theory (Barsalou, 1999, 2008).

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