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Linguistic and embodied systems in conceptual processing: Role of individual differences

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


The process of understanding a word engages two broad mental systems. Early on, the linguistic system activates linguistically related concepts. For instance, a word such as ‘branch’ could afford relevant concepts such as ELEMENT and GROUP. Next, a few milliseconds later, the embodied system begins activating sensory, motor and affective connections. For the word ‘branch’, this could include visualizations of verticality and connections in space. Both the linguistic and the embodied system have been extensively demonstrated in experiments. The centre of the current research now is the interplay between the systems. The interplay is relevant because it informs about the nature of each in turn, and about the reasons for both co-existing. The engagement of each system varies as a function of task, stimulus, and individual differences. For instance, the embodied system becomes more engaged with deeper versus shallower semantic tasks, as well as with concrete versus abstract words. Also, expertise in physical domains leads to field-specific concept representations. Further, women appear to utilize the linguistic system more intensively than men do. Individual differences in particular will be the centre of this PhD project. In internet- and lab-based experiments, we will run various semantic tasks, before collecting linguistic and sensorimotor measurements. For accuracy, our experimental designs will include variables related to task and stimulus, to be analysed alongside individual variables. Last, this research will shed light on how different systems can interplay for a specific process.

Event (Conference)

TitlePsychology postraduate medley, Lancaster University
Date29/11/18 → …
Degree of recognitionLocal event