The sound of motion in spoken language: Visual information conveyed by acoustic properties of speech

Hadas Shintel, Howard C. Nusbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

Language is generally viewed as conveying information through symbols whose form is arbitrarily related to their meaning. This arbitrary relation is often assumed to also characterize the mental representations underlying language comprehension. We explore the idea that visuo-spatial information can be analogically conveyed through acoustic properties of speech and that such information is integrated into an analog perceptual representation as a natural part of comprehension. Listeners heard sentences describing objects, spoken at varying speaking rates. After each sentence, participants saw a picture of an object and judged whether it had been mentioned in the sentence. Participants were faster to recognize the object when motion implied by speaking rate matched the motion implied by the picture. Results suggest that visuo-spatial referential information can be analogically conveyed and represented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-690
Number of pages10
JournalCognition
Volume105
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Perceptual representations
  • Prosody
  • Spoken language comprehension

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