Spatial narrative context modulates semantic (but not visual) competition during discourse processing

Glenn Williams*, Anuenue Kukona, Yuki Kamide

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research highlights the influence of (e.g., task) context on conceptual retrieval. To assess whether conceptual representations are context-dependent rather than static, we investigated the influence of spatial narrative context on accessibility for lexical-semantic information by exploring competition effects. In two visual world experiments, participants listened to narratives describing semantically related (piano-trumpet; Experiment 1) or visually similar (bat-cigarette; Experiment 2) objects in the same or separate narrative locations while viewing arrays displaying these (‘target’ and ‘competitor’) objects and other distractors. Upon re-mention of the target, we analysed eye movements to the competitor. In Experiment 1, we observed semantic competition only when targets and competitors were described in the same location; in Experiment 2, we observed visual competition regardless of context. We interpret these results as consistent with context-dependent approaches, such that spatial narrative context dampens accessibility for semantic but not visual information in the visual world.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104030
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Early online date10 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


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