ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2013, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (4): 406-415.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2013.00406

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The Mental Representation of Color Information in Sentence Comprehension

ZHANG Pan;LU Zhongyi   

  1. (1 College of Education, Hebei Normal University, Shijiazhuang 050091, China) (2 Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China)
  • Received:2012-08-22 Published:2013-04-25 Online:2013-04-25
  • Contact: LU Zhongyi

Abstract: The mental representation of implicit color information during sentence comprehension remained to be answered in embodied cognition. In the current study, we adopted a sentence–picture matching paradigm with different settings of temporal intervals and sentences containing typical and atypical color information to address the question. A hundred and three college students with normal vision participated, with thirty-eight in Experiment 1, twenty-one in Experiment 2 and forty-four in Experiment 3. In Experiment 1, we determined the process of mental representation of color after sentence integration. In each trial, a sentence that implied a particular color for a given object was first presented, followed by an interval (0 ms or 1500 ms), then an object either matched or mismatched to the implied color appeared. Participants were required to judge whether the pictured object was mentioned in the preceding sentence or not and reaction time was registered. In Experiment 2, online measure was adopted to explore whether the mental representation of static color occurs immediately and locally during sentence processing. Subjects were required to self-regulate their readings by pressing the Space key if they finish one word, which will also terminate the presentation of the current word and initiate next word. The object words were replaced by a picture. After finishing one sentence, subjects should make a sensibility judgment on it. In Experiment 3, offline measure (identical to Experiment 1) was adopted to explore the mental representation of dynamic color information. The sentences included two types: one changes typical color to atypical and the other reversed. Participants were required to judge whether the pictured object was mentioned in the preceding sentence. Experiment 1 is a 2 colors × 2 intervals × 2 picture condition mixed design; Experiment 2 is a 2 colors × 2 picture condition within-subjects design; Experiment 3 is a 2 colors × 2 intervals × 2 picture condition mixed design. All the data were analyzed with repeated-measure MANOVA. In Experiment 1, response time was shorter in the mismatched condition than that in the matched condition, at the earlier period of sentence comprehension (interval of 0 ms); the result was reversed at the later period (interval of 1500 ms). In Experiment 2, the reading time was shorter for the picture in the mismatched condition. For the first word following the picture object, there was a mis-match facilitation in the atypical color condition. In Experiment 3, when the sentence implied typical color, response time was shorter in the matched condition as opposed to that in the mismatched condition at the later period of sentence comprehension. Our findings provide abundant evidence for how the implicit perceptual information on object color is represented during sentence comprehension. Together with other empirical findings, the current study indicates: (1) Under time-limited condition, the appearance of matched or mismatched facilitation depends on whether the two tasks compete for common cognitive resource; (2) The representation of implicit static typical color information is an immediate and local phenomenon. On the contrary, the representation of implicit static atypical color information is an immediate but non-local phenomenon; (3) The dynamic color information could not be immediately represented at the early period of sentence comprehension, only the dynamic typical color information could be represented at the later period of sentence comprehension.

Key words: sentence comprehension, embodied cognition, color cognition, mental representation