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Individual differences in spatial cognition influence mental simulation of language

Individual differences in spatial cognition influence mental simulation of language

Cognition 142: 110-122

The factors that contribute to perceptual simulation during sentence comprehension remain underexplored. Extant research on perspective taking in language has largely focused on linguistic constraints, such as the role of pronouns in guiding perspective adoption. In the present study, we identify preferential usage of egocentric and allocentric reference frames in individuals, and test the two groups on a standard sentence-picture verification task. Across three experiments, we show that individual biases in spatial reference frame adoption observed in non-linguistic tasks influence visual simulation of perspective in language. Our findings suggest that typically reported grand-averaged effects may obscure important between-subject differences, and support proposals arguing for representational pluralism, where perceptual information is integrated dynamically and in a way that is sensitive to contextual and especially individual constraints.

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Accession: 058101816

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PMID: 26036923

DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2015.05.017

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