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Journal Article

Representing visual recursion does not require verbal or motor resources


Martins,  Mauricio
Department of Cognitive Biology, University Vienna, Austria;
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;
Language Research Laboratory, University of Lisbon, Portugal;

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Martins, M., Mursic, Z., Oh, J., & Fitch, W. T. (2015). Representing visual recursion does not require verbal or motor resources. Cognitive Psychology, 77, 20-41. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2015.01.004.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0029-A85C-9
The ability to form and use recursive representations while processing hierarchical structures has been hypothesized to rely on language abilities. If so, linguistic resources should inevitably be activated while representing recursion in non-linguistic domains. In this study we use a dual-task paradigm to assess whether verbal resources are required to perform a visual recursion task. We tested participants across 4 conditions: (1) Visual recursion only, (2) Visual recursion with motor interference (sequential finger tapping), (3) Visual recursion with verbal interference – low load, and (4) Visual recursion with verbal interference – high load. Our results show that the ability to acquire and use visual recursive representations is not affected by the presence of verbal and motor interference tasks. Our finding that visual recursion can be represented without access to verbal resources suggests that recursion is available independently of language processing abilities.