Spatial distance modulates reading times for sentences about social relations: evidence from eye tracking

Ernesto GuerraCognitive Interaction Technology Excellence Cluster, Bielefeld University; Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Pia KnoeferleCognitive Interaction Technology Excellence Cluster, Bielefeld University

Abstract

Recent evidence from eye tracking during reading showed that non-referential spatial distance presented in a visual context can modulate semantic interpretation of similarity relations rapidly and incrementally. In two eye-tracking reading experiments we extended these findings in two important ways; first, we examined whether other semantic domains (social relations) could also be rapidly influenced by spatial distance during sentence comprehension. Second, we aimed to further specify how abstract language is co-indexed with spatial information by varying the syntactic structure of sentences between experiments. Spatial distance rapidly modulated reading times as a function of the social relation expressed by a sentence. Moreover, our findings suggest that abstract language can be co-indexed as soon as critical information becomes available for the reader.

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