Language concatenates perceptual features into representations during comprehension

Bruno R. Bocanegra*, Fenna H. Poletiek, Rolf A. Zwaan

*Corresponding author for this work

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Although many studies have investigated the activation of perceptual representations during language comprehension, to our knowledge only one previous study has directly tested how perceptual features are combined into representations during comprehension. In their classic study, Potter and Faulconer [(1979). Understanding noun phrases. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 18, 509-521.] investigated the perceptual representation of adjective-noun combinations. However, their non-orthogonal design did not allow the differentiation between conjunctive vs. disjunctive representations. Using randomized orthogonal designs, we observe evidence for disjunctive perceptual representations when participants represent feature combinations simultaneously (in several experiments; N = 469), and we observe evidence for conjunctive perceptual repre-sentations when participants represent feature combinations sequentially (In several experiments; N = 628). Our findings show that the generation of conjunctive representations during comprehension depends on the concatenation of linguistic cues, and thus suggest the construction of elaborate perceptual representations may critically depend on language.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104355
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

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