Effects of language on visual perception

Gary Lupyan*, Rasha Abdel Rahman, Lera Boroditsky, Andy Clark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Does language change what we perceive? Does speaking different languages cause us to perceive things differently? We review the behavioral and electrophysiological evidence for the influence of language on perception, with an emphasis on the visual modality. Effects of language on perception can be observed both in higher-level processes such as recognition and in lower-level processes such as discrimination and detection. A consistent finding is that language causes us to perceive in a more categorical way. Rather than being fringe or exotic, as they are sometimes portrayed, we discuss how effects of language on perception naturally arise from the interactive and predictive nature of perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)930-944
Number of pages15
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • categorization
  • language
  • perception
  • prediction
  • top-down effects
  • vision


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