The Benefits of Sensorimotor Knowledge: Body–Object Interaction Facilitates Semantic Processing

Cognitive Science 32 (3):591-605 (2008)
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This article examined the effects of body–object interaction (BOI) on semantic processing. BOI measures perceptions of the ease with which a human body can physically interact with a word's referent. In Experiment 1, BOI effects were examined in 2 semantic categorization tasks (SCT) in which participants decided if words are easily imageable. Responses were faster and more accurate for high BOI words (e.g., mask) than for low BOI words (e.g., ship). In Experiment 2, BOI effects were examined in a semantic lexical decision task (SLDT), which taps both semantic feedback and semantic processing. The BOI effect was larger in the SLDT than in the SCT, suggesting that BOI facilitates both semantic feedback and semantic processing. The findings are consistent with the embodied cognition perspective (e.g., Barsalou's, 1999, Perceptual Symbols Theory), which proposes that sensorimotor interactions with the environment are incorporated in semantic knowledge.



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