ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (6): 583-594.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2022.00583

• Reports of Empirical Studies •     Next Articles

The influence of language and context on sensorimotor simulation of concrete concepts

SHI Rubin1,2, XIE Jiushu3, YANG Mengqing1,2, WANG Ruiming1,*()   

  1. 1Philosophy and Social Science Laboratory of Reading and Development in Children and Adolescents (South China Normal University), Ministry of Education, Guangzhou 510631, China
    2School of Psychology, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
    3School of Psychology, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210097, China
  • Received:2021-07-16 Published:2022-06-25 Online:2022-04-26
  • Contact: WANG Ruiming
  • Supported by:
    National Social Science Foundation of China(18BYY121)


Sensorimotor simulation in concrete concept processing is the core process of concept representation. In our study, the influence of linguistic factors (language type: first language and second language) and situational factors (perceptual situation: spatial perceptual situation and semantic perceptual situation) on sensorimotor simulation in concrete concept processing were investigated.
In Experiment 1, the semantic relevance judgment paradigm is used to test whether sensorimotor simulation is involved in the second language processing and whether there is any difference between the first language and second language processing. The results of Experiment 1 show that sensorimotor simulation has participated in the second language processing. However, there is an accuracy advantage in the sensorimotor simulation in the first language. In Experiment 2, two experiments are conducted to test the influence of the perceptual situation on sensorimotor simulation. Experiment 2a tests the influence of perceptual situations on sensorimotor simulation by changing the intensity of individual perception in the vertical spatial axis. The results show that the sensorimotor simulation was found in both strong and weak spatial perception. The effect of semantic processing level on perceptual motion simulation is tested in Experiment 2b. The experiment manipulates the level of semantic processing by using the semantic relevance judgment task and true-and-false word judgment task. The results show that sensorimotor simulation participates in the processing of concepts, while semantic situations did not modulate this effect. The results of Experiment 2 suggest that sensorimotor stimulation may be automatic in conceptual processing.
The present study conducted two experiments to test the role of sensorimotor simulation in conceptual processing. Results found that sensorimotor simulation participates in the conceptual representation, supporting the perceptual symbol theory. Furthermore, sensorimotor simulation takes place in both Chinese and English. This finding extends the perceptual symbol theory. Finally, results found that sensorimotor stimulation may be automatic in conceptual representation and is not affected by spatial information and semantic processing.

Key words: concrete concept, conceptual representation, sensorimotor simulation, perceptual symbol theory