What is the role of consciousness in language processing? Unconscious priming experiments show that words can prime other words with related meanings (cat – dog), and these priming effects are assumed to reflect the activation of conceptual knowledge in semantic memory. Alternatively, however, unconscious priming effects could reflect predictive relationships between the words’ forms, since words that are semantically related are also statistically related in language use. Therefore, unconscious “semantic” priming effects could be due to relationships between words’ forms mimicking conceptual relationships, as in Searle’s Chinese Room thought experiment. To distinguish wordform-based and semantics-based accounts of priming we conducted an experiment in which temporal words (e.g., earlier, later) were preceded by spatial words that were processed either consciously or unconsciously. Time is typically conceptualized as a spatial continuum extending along either the sagittal (front-back) or the lateral (left-right) axis, but only the sagittal space-time mapping is encoded in language (e.g. the future is ahead, not to the right). Results showed that temporal words were primed both by sagittal words (back, front) and lateral words (left, right) when primes were perceived consciously, as predicted by both wordformbased and semantics-based accounts. Yet, only sagittal words produced an unconscious priming effect, as predicted by the wordform-based account. Unconscious word processing appears to be limited to relationships between words’ forms, and consciousness may be needed to activate words’ meanings.

Stepping out of the Chinese Room: Word meaning with and without consciousness / Bottini, Roberto; Nadalini, Andrea; Casasanto, Daniel; Crepaldi, Davide. - (2016), pp. 78-82. ((Intervento presentato al convegno Third italian conference on computational linguistics CLIC-IT 2016 tenutosi a Napoli nel 5-6 December 2016 [10.4000/books.aaccademia.1727].

Stepping out of the Chinese Room: Word meaning with and without consciousness

Bottini, Roberto
;
Nadalini, Andrea;Crepaldi, Davide
2016

Abstract

What is the role of consciousness in language processing? Unconscious priming experiments show that words can prime other words with related meanings (cat – dog), and these priming effects are assumed to reflect the activation of conceptual knowledge in semantic memory. Alternatively, however, unconscious priming effects could reflect predictive relationships between the words’ forms, since words that are semantically related are also statistically related in language use. Therefore, unconscious “semantic” priming effects could be due to relationships between words’ forms mimicking conceptual relationships, as in Searle’s Chinese Room thought experiment. To distinguish wordform-based and semantics-based accounts of priming we conducted an experiment in which temporal words (e.g., earlier, later) were preceded by spatial words that were processed either consciously or unconsciously. Time is typically conceptualized as a spatial continuum extending along either the sagittal (front-back) or the lateral (left-right) axis, but only the sagittal space-time mapping is encoded in language (e.g. the future is ahead, not to the right). Results showed that temporal words were primed both by sagittal words (back, front) and lateral words (left, right) when primes were perceived consciously, as predicted by both wordformbased and semantics-based accounts. Yet, only sagittal words produced an unconscious priming effect, as predicted by the wordform-based account. Unconscious word processing appears to be limited to relationships between words’ forms, and consciousness may be needed to activate words’ meanings.
Proceedings of the Third Italian Conference on Computational Linguistics CLIC-IT 2016
78
82
9788899982546
10.4000/books.aaccademia.1727
Accademia University Press
Bottini, Roberto; Nadalini, Andrea; Casasanto, Daniel; Crepaldi, Davide
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
BottiniEtAl_clicIt2016.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipologia: Versione Editoriale (PDF)
Licenza: Creative commons
Dimensione 197.85 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
197.85 kB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11767/105382
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 0
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact