Title

An investigation of embodied language comprehension from the perspective of coordination dynamics

Date of Completion

January 2009

Keywords

Language, Linguistics|Psychology, Cognitive

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

In four experiments, participants performed sentence comprehension tasks simultaneously with bimanual coordination. Half of the sentences described events that could not be performed by a human (non-performable) and half described actions that could be performed by a human (performable). Effects of sentence type on coordination were indexed by mean relative phase shift and variability of relative phase as well as movement period. Effects of sentence type on comprehension were indexed by reaction time in judging sentence plausibility. Experiments 1a and 1b showed no differences in coordination between the sentence conditions, but showed a difference in mean relative phase shift when participants performed the sentence judgment task and the coordination task together (dual task) as compared to when participants performed the coordination task alone (single task). This difference also appeared for movement period. Experiment 2 explored the effects of sentence difficulty combined with performability. Results showed no differences between sentence conditions, but showed differences in mean relative phase shift, variability of relative phase, and movement period between the dual task and single task conditions. Experiment 3 explored the differences in task performance between right-handed and left-handed participants. Results showed no differences in coordination between the sentence conditions and no differences between right-handed and left-handed participants. The differences between the dual task and single task conditions were the same as those described for Experiments 1a and 1b. In Experiment 4, movement period was fixed by an auditory metronome. There were no differences in coordination between the two sentence conditions, nor were there differences between the dual task and single task conditions. In both Experiments 3 and 4, reaction times were faster to performable sentences than non-performable sentences in the dual task conditions. Results are discussed with respect to theories of embodied language comprehension, and dual task performance. ^