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Feature types and object categories: Is sensorimotoric knowledge different for living and nonliving things?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 August 2011

University of Sheffield and Universität des Saarlandes
University of Sheffield
University of Sheffield
ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Carrie A. Ankerstein, Universität des Saarlandes, Fachrichtung 4.3 Anglistik, Postfach 15 11 10, Saarbrücken 66041, Germany. E-mail:


Some models of semantic memory claim that items from living and nonliving domains have different feature-type profiles. Data from feature generation and perceptual modality rating tasks were compared to evaluate this claim. Results from two living (animals, fruits/vegetables) and two nonliving (tools, vehicles) categories showed that sensorimotoric features were important in object knowledge across both domains. In addition, significant cross-domain similarities and within-domain differences indicated that feature profiles were not determined simply as a function of the living and nonliving domain distinction. The current data support a model of semantic memory rooted in perceptual and motor processes with reduced salience for the “living/nonliving” construct.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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