Linguistic Processes in Visuospatial Representation: Clarifying Verbal Interference Effects


Verbal interference in visuospatial information processing has been interpreted as showing either that verbal coding supplements visuospatial representation (Meilinger, Knauff, & Bulthoff, 2008; Walker & Cuthbert, 1998), or that language mechanisms are necessary for integrating featural and spatial information (Hermer-Vazquez, Spelke, & Katsnelson, 1999). However, previous studies have used verbal interference tasks varying in linguistic demands, making it difficult to identify which linguistic processes are involved in visuospatial representation. We compared the effects of verbal shadowing tasks with and without lexical and syntactic demands on performance of visuospatial construction and memory tasks and a reorientation task. The shadowing task with lexical and syntactic content did not selectively disrupt performance on any of the tasks, suggesting that core language mechanisms are not required for visuospatial representation.

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