Cameron Smith

Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Amit Almor


A number of studies have suggested that spatial representations are used during language comprehension in a number of different paradigms (e.g. Ferreira et al., 2008; Gunter et al., 2015). These studies have largely focused on the visual modality, suggesting that people may use spatial cues in the visual environment to aid them in language comprehension. Importantly, the primary modality of spoken language is audition, which raises the question of whether the reliance on spatial information is specific to referents that are visible or at least were visible at some point. Thus, in this study, we examined whether spatial representations are used in language comprehension in the auditory modality. In support of this, we show that participants retain auditory non-visual spatial information to encode referents and activate this information in a cross-modal reading task. Our results are consistent with findings from studies of sign language and manual gesture that suggest that spatial representation may influence the reference process (e.g. Emmorey, 1996; Gunter et al., 2015). These results thus represent an important first step in understanding how spatial representation may influence spoken language comprehension.