According to theories of embodied cognition, language comprehenders simulate sensorimotor experiences to represent the meaning of what they read. Previous studies have shown that picture recognition is better if the object in the picture matches the orientation or shape implied by a preceding sentence. In order to test whether strategic imagery may explain previous findings, language comprehenders first read a list of sentences in which objects were mentioned. Only once the complete list had been read was recognition memory tested with pictures. Recognition performance was better if the orientation or shape of the object matched that implied by the sentence, both immediately after reading the complete list of sentences and after a 45-min delay. These results suggest that previously found match effects were not due to strategic imagery and show that details of sensorimotor simulations are retained over longer periods.

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The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Department of Psychology

Pecher, D., van Dantzig, S., Zwaan, R., & Zeelenberg, R. (2009). Language comprehenders retain implied shape and orientation of objects. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62(6), 1108–1114. doi:10.1080/17470210802633255