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Psychon Bull Rev. 2009 Jun;16(3):573-7. doi: 10.3758/PBR.16.3.573.

Is a bear white in the woods? Parallel representation of implied object color during language comprehension.

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  • 1University of Manchester, Manchester, England.


Color is undeniably important to object representations, but so too is the ability of context to alter the color of an object. The present study examined how implied perceptual information about typical and atypical colors is represented during language comprehension. Participants read sentences that implied a (typical or atypical) color for a target object and then performed a modified Stroop task in which they named the ink color of the target word (typical, atypical, or unrelated). Results showed that color naming was facilitated both when ink color was typical for that object (e.g., bear in brown ink) and when it matched the color implied by the previous sentence (e.g., bear in white ink following Joe was excited to see a bear at the North Pole). These findings suggest that unusual contexts cause people to represent in parallel both typical and scenario-specific perceptual information, and these types of information are discussed in relation to the specialization of perceptual simulations.

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