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Prediction and production of simple mathematical equations: Evidence from anticipatory eye movements

Hintz, F., & Meyer, A. S. (2015). Prediction and production of simple mathematical equations: Evidence from anticipatory eye movements. PLoS One, 10(7): e0130766. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130766.
The relationship between the production and the comprehension systems has recently become a topic of interest for many psycholinguists. It has been argued that these systems are tightly linked and in particular that listeners use the production system to predict upcoming content. In this study, we tested how similar production and prediction processes are in a novel version of the visual world paradigm. Dutch speaking participants (native speakers in Experiment 1; German-Dutch bilinguals in Experiment 2) listened to mathematical equations while looking at a clock face featuring the numbers 1 to 12. On alternating trials, they either heard a complete equation ("three plus eight is eleven") or they heard the first part ("three plus eight is") and had to produce the result ("eleven") themselves. Participants were encouraged to look at the relevant numbers throughout the trial. Their eye movements were recorded and analyzed. We found that the participants' eye movements in the two tasks were overall very similar. They fixated the first and second number of the equations shortly after they were mentioned, and fixated the result number well before they named it on production trials and well before the recorded speaker named it on comprehension trials. However, all fixation latencies were shorter on production than on comprehension trials. These findings suggest that the processes involved in planning to say a word and anticipating hearing a word are quite similar, but that people are more aroused or engaged when they intend to respond than when they merely listen to another person.

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