In describing motion events verbs of manner provide information about the speed of agents or objects in those events. We used eye tracking to investigate how inferences about this verb-associated speed of motion would influence the time course of attention to a visual scene that matched an event described in language. Eye movements were recorded as participants heard spoken sentences with verbs that implied a fast ("dash") or slow ("dawdle") movement of an agent towards a goal. These sentences were heard whilst participants concurrently looked at scenes depicting the agent and a path which led to the goal object. Our results indicate a mapping of events onto the visual scene consistent with participants mentally simulating the movement of the agent along the path towards the goal: when the verb implies a slow manner of motion, participants look more often and longer along the path to the goal; when the verb implies a fast manner of motion, participants tend to look earlier at the goal and less on the path. These results reveal that event comprehension in the presence of a visual world involves establishing and dynamically updating the locations of entities in response to linguistic descriptions of events.
Lindsay, S., Scheepers, C., & Kamide, Y. (2013). To dash or to dawdle: verb-associated speed of motion influences eye movements during spoken sentence comprehension. PLoS ONE, 8(6), [e67187]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0067187