FSK Workshop 8

Vortrag Kognition und Psychologie

Prof. Dr. Barbara Kaup (Universität Tübingen)

The experiential-simulation view of language comprehension: How is meaning composed?

In language comprehension research there is growing evidence that comprehending a text is tantamount to the construction of a so-called situation model,
which is a mental representation of the state of affairs described by the linguistic input. Within the past 15 years, the notion that situation models are of a representational format that is the same as that utilized in other non-linguistic cognitive processes (e.g., perception, imagery) has been gaining in importance – comprehenders are assumed to mentally simulate the experience of the referent situation during text processing (e.g., Barsalou, 1999; 2008; Fischer & Zwaan, 2008; Zwaan, 2004).

Research conducted in the context of the experiential-simulations view of language comprehension has until now focused mainly on providing evidence that linguistic and non-linguistic cognition interact, as is predicted by this view. As of yet, relatively little attention has been devoted to the exact processes by which meaning is being composed at the sentence level. For instance, it is not yet clear how particular linguistic operators affect the meaning representations created during comprehension.

My talk will be divided into two sections. In the first section, I will address the question of how negation is captured in the experiential-simulations created during language processing. In particular, I will discuss the notion that negation is implicitly represented in the processes that are undertaken when constructing the experiential simulations for a negative sentence. A series of experiments will be reported that investigated whether a negation is a cue to the comprehender to do two things: first, construct an experiential simulation of the negated state of affairs, and second, shift attention away from this representation towards the representation of the actual state of affairs.

In the second section of the talk, I will report about an ongoing research project devoted to investigating the process of meaning composition in experiential-simulations during language comprehension. The central question is whether, and if so which, aspects of the comprehension process can be accounted for in a compositional manner.


Barsalou, L. W. (1999). Perceptual symbol systems. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 577-609.
Barsalou, L. W. (2008). Grounded Cognition. Annual Review of Psychology, 59. 617-645.
Fischer, M. H. & Zwaan, R.A. (2008). Grounding Cognition in Perception and Action. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61, 825-850.
Zwaan, R. A. (2004). The immersed experiencer: Toward an embodied theory of language comprehension. In B.H. Ross (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation, Vol. 43 (pp. 35-62). New York: Academic Press.


Termin: 13.12.2010

Zeit: 19:00 - 20:30

Ort: Universität Stuttgart, K2, Raum: 11.01 (im 11. Stock, erreichbar über Aufzug bis zum 10. Stock, dann Treppe)

Organisation und Kontakt:

Klaus von Heusinger

Institut für Linguistik/Germanistik

Universität Stuttgart