Event processing in the visual world: projected motion paths during spoken sentence comprehension

Yuki Kamide (Lead / Corresponding author), Shane Lindsay, Christoph Scheepers, Anuenue Kukona

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
289 Downloads (Pure)


Motion events in language describe the movement of an entity to another location along a path. In 2 eye-tracking experiments, we found that comprehension of motion events involves the online construction of a spatial mental model that integrates language with the visual world. In Experiment 1, participants listened to sentences describing the movement of an agent to a goal while viewing visual scenes depicting the agent, goal, and empty space in between. Crucially, verbs suggested either upward (e.g., jump) or downward (e.g., crawl) paths. We found that in the rare event of fixating the empty space between the agent and goal, visual attention was biased upward or downward in line with the verb. In Experiment 2, visual scenes depicted a central obstruction, which imposed further constraints on the paths and increased the likelihood of fixating the empty space between the agent and goal. The results from this experiment corroborated and refined the previous findings. Specifically, eye-movement effects started immediately after hearing the verb and were in line with data from an additional mouse-tracking task that encouraged a more explicit spatial reenactment of the motion event. In revealing how event comprehension operates in the visual world, these findings suggest a mental simulation process whereby spatial details of motion events are mapped onto the world through visual attention. The strength and detectability of such effects in overt eye-movements is constrained by the visual world and the fact that perceivers rarely fixate regions of empty space. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)804-812
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number5
Early online date19 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • motion event processing
  • sentence comprehension
  • spatial processing
  • verb semantics
  • eye movements


Dive into the research topics of 'Event processing in the visual world: projected motion paths during spoken sentence comprehension'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this