The role of perceptual modalities in conceptual processing
Everyday experiences are full of multimodal richness. Something as simple as eating an apple involves experiencing the bright green colour of the apple, the smoothness of its skin, the crunch of its crisp flesh, the fragrant rush of the juice and the pleasing tart taste. Embodied theories of cognition hold that conceptual thought is essentially composed of partial recordings of the neural activation that arises during our perceptual and motor experiences. In other words, thinking about an apple involves re-enacting perceptual recordings of how an apple might look, feel, sound, smell and/or taste. The implication is that factors which affect the perception of objects may also affect the conceptual processing of objects.
This project proposes that it is overly simplistic to assume that object properties are conceptually processed only in single, modality-specific regions of the brain: flavour may be represented as a combination of taste and smell, while crispness may be represented as something both heard and felt. A series of response-time experiments will examine how object properties can be represented either unimodally (using a single perceptual modality) or multimodally (using multiple perceptual modalities), and how perceptual phenomena emerge during conceptual processing.
Duration of the project
Members of the project
|Dr Louise Connell||Principal investigator|
|Dr Dermot Lynott||Research associate|