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

Glenn P. Williams (Lead / Corresponding author), Anuenue Kukona, Yuki Kamide

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
196 Downloads (Pure)


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
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Early online date10 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • Discourse processing
  • Eye-tracking
  • Semantic competition
  • Visual competition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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