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Keeping (eye)track(s) of multiple worlds

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The world about us changes at an extraordinary pace. If language is to have any influence on what we attend to, that influence has to be exerted at a pace that can keep up. In this talk I shall focus on two aspects of this requirement: The speed with which language can mediate visual attention, and the fact that the cognitive system can very efficiently make up for the fact that, to be expedient (i.e. to keep up with the changing world) we do not in fact refer to all the changes that are associated with, or entailed, by an event. Rather, we infer aspects of those changes. One example of this is through elaborative inference, and another is through the manner in which we track (often unstated) changes in the states of objects as those objects undergo change. The talk will conclude with data suggesting that multiple representations of the same object in different event-dependent states may compete with one another, and that this competitive process may bring both costs and benefits.

This talk is part of the Cambridge University Linguistic Society series.

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