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An investigation into the influence of verbs on attention and event perception

Jones, I; (2006) An investigation into the influence of verbs on attention and event perception. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

A growing body of evidence suggests that language can influence conceptual representations of objects and events. Most of this evidence comes from cross-linguistic studies and investigations of how events are described. What has been mainly investigated, therefore, is the interaction between cognition and language output. In this study, we explored whether linguistic input, specifically verbs, could affect what we attend to and remember of an event. Videoed events were seen in two conditions. In the sentence condition, a sentence was seen prior to the video. In the noun condition, a noun sequence was seen prior to the video. We compared responses and reaction times to a property verification task in the two conditions. The property to be verified was located on an area of the actor's body to which we predicted the verb in the sentence condition would focus a viewer's attention. We hypothesized that property verifications to items seen in the sentence condition would be significantly more accurate and faster than property verifications to items seen in the noun condition, as a result of the attention-directing effect of the verb. Subjects were significantly more accurate in their responses to property verification tasks, when viewing events in the sentence condition. This difference was also seen across items. The six subjects who responded fastest to the property verification task responded significantly faster when the video had been preceded by a sentence than when it had been preceded by a noun sequence. Our results support the claim that verbs can influence what we pay attention to, and therefore what we process and remember of an event. Our results also point to the complex interaction of top-down and bottom-up influences on attention and event processing.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: An investigation into the influence of verbs on attention and event perception
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Language and Cognition
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1567733
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