Language-guided visual processing affects reasoning: the role of referential and spatial anchoring

Magda L. Dumitru, Gitte H. Joergensen, Alice G. Cruickshank, Gerry T. M. Altmann

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Language is more than a source of information for accessing higher-order conceptual knowledge. Indeed, language may determine how people perceive and interpret visual stimuli. Visual processing in linguistic contexts, for instance, mirrors language processing and happens incrementally, rather than through variously-oriented fixations over a particular scene. The consequences of this atypical visual processing are yet to be determined. Here, we investigated the integration of visual and linguistic input during a reasoning task. Participants listened to sentences containing conjunctions or disjunctions (Nancy examined an ant and/. or a cloud) and looked at visual scenes containing two pictures that either matched or mismatched the nouns. Degree of match between nouns and pictures (referential anchoring) and between their expected and actual spatial positions (spatial anchoring) affected fixations as well as judgments. We conclude that language induces incremental processing of visual scenes, which in turn becomes susceptible to reasoning errors during the language-meaning verification process.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)562-571
    Number of pages10
    JournalConsciousness and cognition
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • Anchoring
    • Attention
    • Coordination
    • Language-meaning verification process
    • Reasoning
    • Speech stream
    • Visual stream
    • Visual-world paradigm


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