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Recent evidence in support of embodied cognition suggests that cognition in general, and language comprehension in particular, calls upon sensorimotor traces to mentally simulate described situations. Although the extent to which such experiential traces are integral to linguistic representations remains an open theoretical question, recent eye-tracking studies have demonstrated an immediate interfacing of linguistic and visual representations during understanding. Three eye-tracking experiments were performed that investigated the extent to which the processing of described events involves the anticipatory allocation of visual attention. All three experiments demonstrated that visual attention is allocated to regions within entities equivalently despite the implicit focus of the described event. The results did not provide supporting evidence for the hypothesis that language processing activates context-specific regions during mental simulation. These findings are discussed in the light of evidence that shows that comprehenders' ability to disambiguate meaning and establish reference with external entities can be influenced by linguistic and environmental context.
Eyetracking, Language Processing, Comprehension, Mental Simulation
Date of Defense
Date of Defense: September 15, 2006.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulﬁllment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Florida State University
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