Sarah Hye-yeon Lee
Language and Cognition Lab
University of Pennsylvania
Signatures of individuation across objects and events
The physical world provides humans with continuous streams of experience in both space and time. The human mind, however, can parse and organize this continuous input into discrete, individual units. In this talk, I will characterize the representational signatures of basic units of human experience across the spatial (object) and temporal (event) domains. I propose that there exist shared, abstract signatures of individuation underlying the basic units of representation across the two domains. Specifically, I propose that individuated entities (objects and bounded events) possess a well-defined internal structure. I will present findings from a series of experiments that indicate that there is a conceptual difference between individuals and non-individuals across the object and event domains, and that this difference is supported by similar structural properties that characterize individuation broadly construed. This work has implications for cognitive and linguistic theories of objects and events, for word learning, as well as for the relationship between language and thought.