Visual motion interferes with lexical decision on motion words
Meteyard, L., Zokaei, N., Bahrami, B. and Vigliocco, G. (2008) Visual motion interferes with lexical decision on motion words. Current Biology, 18 (17). R732-R733. ISSN 0960-9822
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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2008.07.016
Embodied theories of cognition propose that neural substrates used in experiencing the referent of a word, for example perceiving upward motion, should be engaged in weaker form when that word, for example ‘rise’, is comprehended. Motivated by the finding that the perception of irrelevant background motion at near-threshold, but not supra-threshold, levels interferes with task execution, we assessed whether interference from near-threshold background motion was modulated by its congruence with the meaning of words (semantic content) when participants completed a lexical decision task (deciding if a string of letters is a real word or not). Reaction times for motion words, such as ‘rise’ or ‘fall’, were slower when the direction of visual motion and the ‘motion’ of the word were incongruent — but only when the visual motion was at nearthreshold levels. When motion was supra-threshold, the distribution of error rates, not reaction times, implicated low-level motion processing in the semantic processing of motion words. As the perception of near-threshold signals is not likely to be influenced by strategies, our results support a close contact between semantic information and perceptual systems.