Previous studies have provided contradictory information regarding the activation of perceptual information in a changing discourse context. The current study examines the continued activation of color in mental simulations across one (Experiment 1), two (Experiment 2), and five sentences (Experiment 3), using a sentence-picture verification paradigm. In Experiment 1, the sentence either contained a reference to a color (e.g., a red bicycle) or no reference to a color (e.g., bicycle). In Experiments 2 and 3, either the first or the final sentence contained a reference to a color. Participants responded to pictures either matching the color mentioned in the sentence, or shown in grayscale. The results illustrated that color was activated in mental simulations when the final sentence contained a reference to color. When the target object (e.g., bicycle) was mentioned in all sentences (i.e., in Experiment 2), color remained activated in the mental simulation, even when only the first sentence made a reference to a color. When the focus of the story was shifted elsewhere and the target object was not present across all sentences (i.e., in Experiment 3), color was no longer activated in the mental simulation. These findings suggest that color remains active in mental simulations so long as the target object is present in every sentence. As soon as the focus of the story shifts to another event, this perceptual information is deactivated in the mental simulation. As such, there is no continued activation of color across a broader discourse context.

Color, Grounded cognition, Language comprehension, Mental simulation, Situation models,
Memory and Cognition
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Hoeben Mannaert, L.N, Dijkstra, K. (Katinka), & Zwaan, R.A. (2020). Is color continuously activated in mental simulations across a broader discourse context?. Memory and Cognition. doi:10.3758/s13421-020-01078-6