Project

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Language influences thought: Top-down influences of language on categorical perception

Applicant Sato Sayaka
Number 171453
Funding scheme Advanced Postdoc.Mobility
Research institution Department of Linguistics and Modern English Language University of Lancaster
Institution of higher education Institution abroad - IACH
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.03.2017 - 28.02.2018
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Psychology
Applied linguistics

Keywords (6)

bilingualism; grammatical gender; linguistic relativity; categorization; conceptual gender; EEG

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
L’idée que le langage puisse influencer la pensée alimente les débats depuis longtemps (le relativisme linguistique ; Whorf, 1956). Si initialement les débats ont porté essentiellement sur le fait de savoir justement si le langage influence la cognition ou pas, les discussions plus récentes se sont surtout focalisées sur quelles tâches cognitives sont sous l’influence du langage et dans quelle mesure. Dans cette perspective, une des approches les plus intéressantes est le « label-feedback hypothesis » proposée par Lupyan (2012). D’après cette hypothèse, l’influence du langage, et plus spécifiquement les mots, fonctionne de manière top-down en modifiant la perception visuelle de l’individu.
Lay summary

Contenu et objectifs du travail de recherche

L’objectif principal de ce projet est de contribuer à une meilleure compréhension de l’influence de la grammaire sur la perception visuelle.  Plus précisément, le projet souhaite explorer (i) si l’information grammaticale, notamment le genre grammatical et indépendamment des mots utilisés, influence la perception lors des processus de catégorisation, et (ii) l’interaction entre l’information grammaticale et la connaissance conceptuelle pendant le processus de catégorisation.

De manière innovante, ce projet examinera l’impact sur la perception des informations linguistiques ainsi que des connaissances conceptuelles à l’aide d’une méthodologie psychophysiologique (à savoir, l’électro-encéphalographie, EEG). A la différence d’une approche comportementale qui est sujet à une contamination idiosyncratique, cette méthodologie nous permettra de fournir des éléments plus probants sur la possible influence du langage sur les processus de perception. 

Contexte scientifique et social du projet de recherche

A travers une approche psychophysiologique, le projet vise à contribuer à la discussion relative à l’impact du langage et sur la perception et les représentations visuelles en proposant vision différente et innovantes. Ces résultats contribueront ainsi également au débat au tour du bilinguisme qui touche actuellement la Suisse au niveau socio-culturelle. 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 29.03.2017

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Publications

Publication
Flexing Gender Perception: Brain Potentials Reveal the Cognitive Permeability of Grammatical Information
Sato Sayaka, Casaponsa Aina, Athanasopoulos Panos (2020), Flexing Gender Perception: Brain Potentials Reveal the Cognitive Permeability of Grammatical Information, in Cognitive Science, 44(9), e12884.
Assessing the impact of gender grammaticization on thought: A psychological and psycholinguistic perspective
Sato Sayaka, Öttl Anton, Gabriel Ute, Gygax Pascal (2017), Assessing the impact of gender grammaticization on thought: A psychological and psycholinguistic perspective, in Osnabrücker Beiträge zur Sprachtheorie (OBST), 90, 5.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Perception and Learning Laboratory (PERLL), Lancaster University Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
The seminar for the Psycholinguistic Research Group, Lancaster University Individual talk The top-down modulation of grammatical gender during categorical perception 24.11.2017 Lancaster, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Sato Sayaka;
The 23rd conference of Architectures and Mechanisms of Language Processing Poster The cognitive penetrability of grammatical gender information during categorization 07.09.2017 Lancaster, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Sato Sayaka;


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
161712 Non-selective language activation and its impact on the representation of gender during reading comprehension among bilinguals 01.09.2015 Early Postdoc.Mobility

Abstract

The extent to which language may impact general cognitive functions has long been subject to debate. On the one hand, proponents of linguistic relativism have emphasized the strong deterministic account of language on cognition (Whorf, 1956). On the other hand, some researchers have supported a more constrained view, arguing that language may impact mental representations as a result of the on-line constraints of language processing (e.g., thinking-for-speaking effects, Slobin, 1996). Crucial to the present research project, a more recent account known as the label-feedback hypothesis (Lupyan, 2012) has suggested that language may penetrate to all general cognitive functions, extending its influence in a top-down manner that categorizes information. Specifically, using a verbal label becomes associated with prototypical features of the exemplar in question, and when activated, can impact perceptual representations. The proposed project aims to add to the growing debate on language and thought, framing the proposed studies within a more modern theoretical context of the label-feedback hypothesis. In particular, the extent and effect of language on two areas of abstract thought are investigated: (i) the effects of grammatical gender information on object categorization, and (ii) the impact of verbal labels of color on emotion perception. A categorization task on visual stimuli will be implemented for three planned experiments, and both psychophysiological (i.e., ERP: event related potentials) and behavioral (i.e., response time, responses) measures will be considered for analyses. The findings of the proposed experiments are intended to further our understanding of the broader influence of language on cognition.
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