Sensory Constraints on Perceptual Simulation During Sentence Reading

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Resource-constrained models of language processing predict that perceptual simulation during language understanding would be compromised by sensory limitations (such as reading text in unfamiliar/difficult font), whereas strong versions of embodied theories of language would predict that simulating perceptual symbols in language would not be impaired even under sensory-constrained situations. In 2 experiments, sensory decoding difficulty was manipulated by using easy and hard fonts to study perceptual simulation during sentence reading (Zwaan, Stanfield, & Yaxley, 2002). Results indicated that simulating perceptual symbols in language was not compromised by surface-form decoding challenges such as difficult font, suggesting relative resilience of embodied language processing in the face of certain sensory constraints. Further implications for learning from text and individual differences in language processing will be discussed.

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