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The multimodal nature of spoken word processing in the visual world: Testing the predictions of alternative models of multimodal integration

Smith, A. C., Monaghan, P., & Huettig, F. (2017). The multimodal nature of spoken word processing in the visual world: Testing the predictions of alternative models of multimodal integration. Journal of Memory and Language, 93, 276-303. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2016.08.005.
Ambiguity in natural language is ubiquitous, yet spoken communication is effective due to integration of information carried in the speech signal with information available in the surrounding multimodal landscape. Language mediated visual attention requires visual and linguistic information integration and has thus been used to examine properties of the architecture supporting multimodal processing during spoken language comprehension. In this paper we test predictions generated by alternative models of this multimodal system. A model (TRACE) in which multimodal information is combined at the point of the lexical representations of words generated predictions of a stronger effect of phonological rhyme relative to semantic and visual information on gaze behaviour, whereas a model in which sub-lexical information can interact across modalities (MIM) predicted a greater influence of visual and semantic information, compared to phonological rhyme. Two visual world experiments designed to test these predictions offer support for sub-lexical multimodal interaction during online language processing.
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The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

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