How Words are Connected With Vision

Results showed that hearing words versus non-word sounds made a significant difference in a well-known peak in brain activity.

Published: 22nd July 2015 04:43 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th August 2015 02:20 PM   |  A+A-


WASHINGTON: Scientists have now demonstrated the way in which words affects our jump start vision. Words affect the way we percieve our vision and the electrical currents associated with it.

Gary Lupyan, a University of Wisconsin-Madison psychology professor said that it can be predicted by manipulating the connection between language and vision

Lupyan’s collaborator, Bastien Boutonnet of Leiden University in the Netherlands, showed people dozens of pictures from a group of 10 common objects or animals. Before each picture appeared, participants first heard a word or a nonverbal sound. The study subjects simply decided whether the word or sound matched the image.

The results showed that hearing words versus non-word sounds made a significant difference in a well-known peak in brain activity occurring within one-tenth of a second after the eyes fall on an image.

It’s the first study to show that a word cue, or a cue of any kind, had such a basic effect on the way the brain processes visual information.

Lupyan said that words were ideal for activating categories in the mind. Language allows people a uniquely human way of thinking in generalities. This ability to transcend the specifics and think about the general may be critically important to logic, mathematics, science, and even complex social interactions.

The study is published in The Journal of Neuroscience.




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