Recent theories propose that semantic representation and sensorimotor processing have a common substrate via simulation. We tested the prediction that comprehension interacts with perception, using a standard psychophysics methodology. While passively listening to verbs that referred to upward or downward motion, and to control verbs that did not refer to motion, 20 subjects performed a motion-detection task, indicating whether or not they saw motion in visual stimuli containing threshold levels of coherent vertical motion. A signal detection analysis revealed that when verbs were directionally incongruent with the motion signal, perceptual sensitivity was impaired. Word comprehension also affected decision criteria and reaction times, but in different ways. The results are discussed with reference to existing explanations of embodied processing and the potential of psychophysical methods for assessing interactions between language and perception.