Spatial Position in Language and Visual Memory: A Cross-Linguistic Comparison

Abstract

German and English speakers employ different strategies to encode static spatial scenes involving the axial position (standing vs. lying) of an inanimate figure object with respect to a ground object. In a series of three experiments, we show that this linguistic difference is not reflected in native speakers’ ability to detect changes in axial position in nonlinguistic memory tasks. Furthermore, even when participants are required to use language to encode a spatial scene, they do not rely on language during a recognition memory task. These results have implications for the relationship between language and visual memory

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