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Unconscious effects of language-specific terminology on pre-attentive colour perception

Thierry, G., Athanasopoulos, P., Wiggett, A., Dering, B. and Kuipers, J.-R. (2009) Unconscious effects of language-specific terminology on pre-attentive colour perception. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106 (11). 4567-4570 . ISSN 0027-8424

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0811155106

Abstract/Summary

It is now established that native language affects one's perception of the world. However, it is unknown whether this effect is merely driven by conscious, language-based evaluation of the environment or whether it reflects fundamental differences in perceptual processing between individuals speaking different languages. Using brain potentials, we demonstrate that the existence in Greek of 2 color terms—ghalazio and ble—distinguishing light and dark blue leads to greater and faster perceptual discrimination of these colors in native speakers of Greek than in native speakers of English. The visual mismatch negativity, an index of automatic and preattentive change detection, was similar for blue and green deviant stimuli during a color oddball detection task in English participants, but it was significantly larger for blue than green deviant stimuli in native speakers of Greek. These findings establish an implicit effect of language-specific terminology on human color perception.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Neuroscience
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Language and Cognition
ID Code:33172
Uncontrolled Keywords:cognition; cultural differences; event-related potentials; linguistic relativity; visual mismatch negativity
Publisher:National Academy of Sciences

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