Isabel Orenes on perceiving negations

Isabel Orenes published a new paper in the Journal of Psycholinguistic Research on how people perceive negative sentences. She reports on eye-tracking data that suggest that people have an easier time processing symbolic representations rather than iconic simulations. The abstract of the paper is here:

Many studies have shown the double processing of negation, suggesting that negation integration into sentence meaning is delayed. This contrasts with some researches that have found that such integration is rather immediate. The present study contributes to this debate. Afrmative and negative compound sentences (e.g., “because he was not hungry, he did not order a salad”) were presented orally in a visual world paradigm while four printed words were on the screen: salad, no salad, soup, and no soup. The eye-tracking data showed two diferent fxation patterns for negative causal assertions, which are linked to diferences in the representation and inferential demands. One indicates that negation is integrated immediately, as people look at the explicit negation (e.g., no salad) very early. The other, in which people look at the alternate (e.g., soup) much later, indicates that what is delayed in time is the representation of the alternate. These results support theories that combine iconic and symbolic representations, such as the model theory

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