Reference Frame Activation during Spatial Term Assignment

Laura A. Carlson-Radvansky, David E Irwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spatial terms such as "above" must be used and interpreted with respect to a frame of reference whose vertical and horizontal axes serve to parse up space. Our interest was in the on-line activation and selection of a reference frame for assigning a direction to "above." Specifically, we explored whether the alignment of the reference frame′s vertical axis was based on a single source of information (the Single Frame Activation hypothesis) or whether the alignment was selected or calculated on the basis of multiple sources of information (the Multiple Frame Activation hypothesis). In three experiments, we measured response time and acceptance rate for sentences as descriptions of pictures in conditions in which we varied the perceptual cues for verticality in order to test between these hypotheses. Our data suggest that multiple reference frames are active, and they compete during spatial term assignment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)646-671
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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