Displaying 1 - 100 of 446
  • HBS Consortium (in press). Protocol of the Healthy Brain Study: An accessible resource for understanding the human brain and how it dynamically and individually operates in its bio-social context. PLoS One.

    Abstract

    The endeavor to understand the human brain has seen more progress in the last few decades than in the previous two millennia. Still, our understanding of how the human brain relates to behavior in the real world and how this link is modulated by biological, social, and environmental factors is limited. To address this, we designed the Healthy Brain Study (HBS), an interdisciplinary, longitudinal, cohort study based on multidimensional, dynamic assessments in both the laboratory and the real world. Here, we describe the rationale and design of the currently ongoing HBS. The HBS is examining a population-based sample of 1,000 healthy participants (age 30-39) who are thoroughly studied across an entire year. Data are collected through cognitive, affective, behavioral, and physiological testing, neuroimaging, bio-sampling, questionnaires, ecological momentary assessment, and real-world assessments using wearable devices. These data will become an accessible resource for the scientific community enabling the next step in understanding the human brain and how it dynamically and individually operates in its bio-social context. An access procedure to the collected data and bio-samples is in place and published on https://www.healthybrainstudy.nl/en/data-and-methods. https://www.trialregister.nl/trial/7955

    Additional information

    Link to preprint on OSF preprints
  • Corps, R. E., Brooke, C., & Pickering, M. (2022). Prediction involves two stages: Evidence from visual-world eye-tracking. Journal of Memory and Language, 122: 104298. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2021.104298.

    Abstract

    Comprehenders often predict what they are going to hear. But do they make the best predictions possible? We addressed this question in three visual-world eye-tracking experiments by asking when comprehenders consider perspective. Male and female participants listened to male and female speakers producing sentences (e.g., I would like to wear the nice…) about stereotypically masculine (target: tie; distractor: drill) and feminine (target: dress, distractor: hairdryer) objects. In all three experiments, participants rapidly predicted semantic associates of the verb. But participants also predicted consistently – that is, consistent with their beliefs about what the speaker would ultimately say. They predicted consistently from the speaker’s perspective in Experiment 1, their own perspective in Experiment 2, and the character’s perspective in Experiment 3. This consistent effect occurred later than the associative effect. We conclude that comprehenders consider perspective when predicting, but not from the earliest moments of prediction, consistent with a two-stage account.

    Additional information

    data and analysis scripts
  • Araújo, S., Huettig, F., & Meyer, A. S. (2021). What underlies the deficit in rapid automatized naming (RAN) in adults with dyslexia? Evidence from eye movements. Scientific Studies of Reading, 25(6), 534-549. doi:10.1080/10888438.2020.1867863.

    Abstract

    This eye-tracking study explored how phonological encoding and speech production planning for successive words are coordinated in adult readers with dyslexia (N = 22) and control readers (N = 25) during rapid automatized naming (RAN). Using an object-RAN task, we orthogonally manipulated the word-form frequency and phonological neighborhood density of the object names and assessed the effects on speech and eye movements and their temporal coordination. In both groups, there was a significant interaction between word frequency and neighborhood density: shorter fixations for dense than for sparse neighborhoods were observed for low-, but not for high-frequency words. This finding does not suggest a specific difficulty in lexical phonological access in dyslexia. However, in readers with dyslexia only, these lexical effects percolated to the late processing stages, indicated by longer offset eye-speech lags. We close by discussing potential reasons for this finding, including suboptimal specification of phonological representations and deficits in attention control or in multi-item coordination.
  • Arunkumar, M., Van Paridon, J., Ostarek, M., & Huettig, F. (2021). Do illiterates have illusions? A conceptual (non)replication of Luria (1976). Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science, 5, 143-158. doi:10.1007/s41809-021-00080-x.

    Abstract

    Luria (1976) famously observed that people who never learnt to read and write do not perceive visual illusions. We conducted a conceptual replication of the Luria study of the effect of literacy on the processing of visual illusions. We designed two carefully controlled experiments with 161 participants with varying literacy levels ranging from complete illiterates to high literates in Chennai, India. Accuracy and reaction time in the identification of two types of visual shape and color illusions and the identification of appropriate control images were measured. Separate statistical analyses of Experiments 1 and 2 as well as pooled analyses of both experiments do not provide any support for the notion that literacy effects the perception of visual illusions. Our large sample, carefully controlled study strongly suggests that literacy does not meaningfully affect the identification of visual illusions and raises some questions about other reports about cultural effects on illusion perception.
  • Bartolozzi, F., Jongman, S. R., & Meyer, A. S. (2021). Concurrent speech planning does not eliminate repetition priming from spoken words: Evidence from linguistic dual-tasking. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 47(3), 466-480. doi:10.1037/xlm0000944.

    Abstract

    In conversation, production and comprehension processes may overlap, causing interference. In 3 experiments, we investigated whether repetition priming can work as a supporting device, reducing costs associated with linguistic dual-tasking. Experiment 1 established the rate of decay of repetition priming from spoken words to picture naming for primes embedded in sentences. Experiments 2 and 3 investigated whether the rate of decay was faster when participants comprehended the prime while planning to name unrelated pictures. In all experiments, the primed picture followed the sentences featuring the prime on the same trial, or 10 or 50 trials later. The results of the 3 experiments were strikingly similar: robust repetition priming was observed when the primed picture followed the prime sentence. Thus, repetition priming was observed even when the primes were processed while the participants prepared an unrelated spoken utterance. Priming might, therefore, support utterance planning in conversation, where speakers routinely listen while planning their utterances.

    Additional information

    supplemental material
  • Bosker, H. R. (2021). The contribution of amplitude modulations in speech to perceived charisma. In B. Weiss, J. Trouvain, M. Barkat-Defradas, & J. J. Ohala (Eds.), Voice attractiveness: Prosody, phonology and phonetics (pp. 165-181). Singapore: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-981-15-6627-1_10.

    Abstract

    Speech contains pronounced amplitude modulations in the 1–9 Hz range, correlating with the syllabic rate of speech. Recent models of speech perception propose that this rhythmic nature of speech is central to speech recognition and has beneficial effects on language processing. Here, we investigated the contribution of amplitude modulations to the subjective impression listeners have of public speakers. The speech from US presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the three TV debates of 2016 was acoustically analyzed by means of modulation spectra. These indicated that Clinton’s speech had more pronounced amplitude modulations than Trump’s speech, particularly in the 1–9 Hz range. A subsequent perception experiment, with listeners rating the perceived charisma of (low-pass filtered versions of) Clinton’s and Trump’s speech, showed that more pronounced amplitude modulations (i.e., more ‘rhythmic’ speech) increased perceived charisma ratings. These outcomes highlight the important contribution of speech rhythm to charisma perception.
  • Bosker, H. R., & Peeters, D. (2021). Beat gestures influence which speech sounds you hear. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 288: 20202419. doi:10.1098/rspb.2020.2419.

    Abstract

    Beat gestures—spontaneously produced biphasic movements of the hand— are among the most frequently encountered co-speech gestures in human communication. They are closely temporally aligned to the prosodic charac- teristics of the speech signal, typically occurring on lexically stressed syllables. Despite their prevalence across speakers of the world’s languages, how beat gestures impact spoken word recognition is unclear. Can these simple ‘flicks of the hand’ influence speech perception? Across a range of experiments, we demonstrate that beat gestures influence the explicit and implicit perception of lexical stress (e.g. distinguishing OBject from obJECT), and in turn can influence what vowels listeners hear. Thus, we pro- vide converging evidence for a manual McGurk effect: relatively simple and widely occurring hand movements influence which speech sounds we hear

    Additional information

    example stimuli and experimental data
  • Bosker, H. R. (2021). Using fuzzy string matching for automated assessment of listener transcripts in speech intelligibility studies. Behavior Research Methods. Advance online publication. doi:10.3758/s13428-021-01542-4.

    Abstract

    Many studies of speech perception assess the intelligibility of spoken sentence stimuli by means of transcription tasks (‘type out what you hear’). The intelligibility of a given stimulus is then often expressed in terms of percentage of words correctly reported from the target sentence. Yet scoring the participants’ raw responses for words correctly identified from the target sentence is a time- consuming task, and hence resource-intensive. Moreover, there is no consensus among speech scientists about what specific protocol to use for the human scoring, limiting the reliability of human scores. The present paper evaluates various forms of fuzzy string matching between participants’ responses and target sentences, as automated metrics of listener transcript accuracy. We demonstrate that one particular metric, the Token Sort Ratio, is a consistent, highly efficient, and accurate metric for automated assessment of listener transcripts, as evidenced by high correlations with human-generated scores (best correlation: r = 0.940) and a strong relationship to acoustic markers of speech intelligibility. Thus, fuzzy string matching provides a practical tool for assessment of listener transcript accuracy in large-scale speech intelligibility studies. See https://tokensortratio.netlify.app for an online implementation.
  • Bosker, H. R., Badaya, E., & Corley, M. (2021). Discourse markers activate their, like, cohort competitors. Discourse Processes. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/0163853X.2021.1924000.

    Abstract

    Speech in everyday conversations is riddled with discourse markers (DMs), such as well, you know, and like. However, in many lab-based studies of speech comprehension, such DMs are typically absent from the carefully articulated and highly controlled speech stimuli. As such, little is known about how these DMs influence online word recognition. The present study specifically investigated the online processing of DM like and how it influences the activation of words in the mental lexicon. We specifically targeted the cohort competitor (CC) effect in the Visual World Paradigm: Upon hearing spoken instructions to “pick up the beaker,” human listeners also typically fixate—next to the target object—referents that overlap phonologically with the target word (cohort competitors such as beetle; CCs). However, several studies have argued that CC effects are constrained by syntactic, semantic, pragmatic, and discourse constraints. Therefore, the present study investigated whether DM like influences online word recognition by activating its cohort competitors (e.g., lightbulb). In an eye-tracking experiment using the Visual World Paradigm, we demonstrate that when participants heard spoken instructions such as “Now press the button for the, like … unicycle,” they showed anticipatory looks to the CC referent (lightbulb)well before hearing the target. This CC effect was sustained for a relatively long period of time, even despite hearing disambiguating information (i.e., the /k/ in like). Analysis of the reaction times also showed that participants were significantly faster to select CC targets (lightbulb) when preceded by DM like. These findings suggest that seemingly trivial DMs, such as like, activate their CCs, impacting online word recognition. Thus, we advocate a more holistic perspective on spoken language comprehension in naturalistic communication, including the processing of DMs.
  • Bosker, H. R. (2021). Evidence for selective adaptation and recalibration in the perception of lexical stress. Language and Speech. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/00238309211030307.

    Abstract

    Individuals vary in how they produce speech. This variability affects both the segments (vowels and consonants) and the suprasegmental properties of their speech (prosody). Previous literature has demonstrated that listeners can adapt to variability in how different talkers pronounce the segments of speech. This study shows that listeners can also adapt to variability in how talkers produce lexical stress. Experiment 1 demonstrates a selective adaptation effect in lexical stress perception: repeatedly hearing Dutch trochaic words biased perception of a subsequent lexical stress continuum towards more iamb responses. Experiment 2 demonstrates a recalibration effect in lexical stress perception: when ambiguous suprasegmental cues to lexical stress were disambiguated by lexical orthographic context as signaling a trochaic word in an exposure phase, Dutch participants categorized a subsequent test continuum as more trochee-like. Moreover, the selective adaptation and recalibration effects generalized to novel words, not encountered during exposure. Together, the experiments demonstrate that listeners also flexibly adapt to variability in the suprasegmental properties of speech, thus expanding our understanding of the utility of listener adaptation in speech perception. Moreover, the combined outcomes speak for an architecture of spoken word recognition involving abstract prosodic representations at a prelexical level of analysis.
  • Brehm, L., & Meyer, A. S. (2021). Planning when to say: Dissociating cue use in utterance initiation using cross-validation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/xge0001012.

    Abstract

    In conversation, turns follow each other with minimal gaps. To achieve this, speakers must launch their utterances shortly before the predicted end of the partner’s turn. We examined the relative importance of cues to partner utterance content and partner utterance length for launching coordinated speech. In three experiments, Dutch adult participants had to produce prepared utterances (e.g., vier, “four”) immediately after a recording of a confederate’s utterance (zeven, “seven”). To assess the role of corepresenting content versus attending to speech cues in launching coordinated utterances, we varied whether the participant could see the stimulus being named by the confederate, the confederate prompt’s length, and whether within a block of trials, the confederate prompt’s length was predictable. We measured how these factors affected the gap between turns and the participants’ allocation of visual attention while preparing to speak. Using a machine-learning technique, model selection by k-fold cross-validation, we found that gaps were most strongly predicted by cues from the confederate speech signal, though some benefit was also conferred by seeing the confederate’s stimulus. This shows that, at least in a simple laboratory task, speakers rely more on cues in the partner’s speech than corepresentation of their utterance content.
  • Brehm, L., Jackson, C. N., & Miller, K. L. (2021). Probabilistic online processing of sentence anomalies. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2021.1900579.

    Abstract

    Listeners can successfully interpret the intended meaning of an utterance even when it contains errors or other unexpected anomalies. The present work combines an online measure of attention to sentence referents (visual world eye-tracking) with offline judgments of sentence meaning to disclose how the interpretation of anomalous sentences unfolds over time in order to explore mechanisms of non-literal processing. We use a metalinguistic judgment in Experiment 1 and an elicited imitation task in Experiment 2. In both experiments, we focus on one morphosyntactic anomaly (Subject-verb agreement; The key to the cabinets literally *were … ) and one semantic anomaly (Without; Lulu went to the gym without her hat ?off) and show that non-literal referents to each are considered upon hearing the anomalous region of the sentence. This shows that listeners understand anomalies by overwriting or adding to an initial interpretation and that this occurs incrementally and adaptively as the sentence unfolds.
  • Creemers, A., & Embick, D. (2021). Retrieving stem meanings in opaque words during auditory lexical processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2021.1909085.

    Abstract

    Recent constituent priming experiments show that Dutch and German prefixed verbs prime their stem, regardless of semantic transparency (e.g. Smolka et al. [(2014). ‘Verstehen’ (‘understand’) primes ‘stehen’ (‘stand’): Morphological structure overrides semantic compositionality in the lexical representation of German complex verbs. Journal of Memory and Language, 72, 16–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2013.12.002]). We examine whether the processing of opaque verbs (e.g. herhalen “repeat”) involves the retrieval of only the whole-word meaning, or whether the lexical-semantic meaning of the stem (halen as “take/get”) is retrieved as well. We report the results of an auditory semantic priming experiment with Dutch prefixed verbs, testing whether the recognition of a semantic associate to the stem (BRENGEN “bring”) is facilitated by the presentation of an opaque prefixed verb. In contrast to prior visual studies, significant facilitation after semantically opaque primes is found, which suggests that the lexical-semantic meaning of stems in opaque words is retrieved. We examine the implications that these findings have for auditory word recognition, and for the way in which different types of meanings are represented and processed.

    Additional information

    supplemental material
  • Decuyper, C., Brysbaert, M., Brodeur, M. B., & Meyer, A. S. (2021). Bank of Standardized Stimuli (BOSS): Dutch names for 1400 photographs. Journal of Cognition, 4(1): 33. doi:10.5334/joc.180.

    Abstract

    We present written naming norms from 153 young adult Dutch speakers for 1397 photographs (the BOSS set; see Brodeur, Dionne-Dostie, Montreuil, & Lepage, 2010; Brodeur, Guérard, & Bouras, 2014). From the norming study, we report the preferred (modal) name, alternative names, name agreement, and average object agreement. In addition, the data base includes Zipf frequency, word prevalence and Age of Acquisition for the modal picture names collected. Furthermore, we describe a subset of 359 photographs with very good name agreement and a subset of 35 photos with two common names. These sets may be particularly valuable for designing experiments. Though the participants typed the object names, comparisons with other datasets indicate that the collected norms are valuable for spoken naming studies as well.
  • Eviatar, Z., & Huettig, F. (Eds.). (2021). Literacy and writing systems [Special Issue]. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science.
  • Eviatar, Z., & Huettig, F. (2021). The literate mind. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science, 5, 81-84. doi:10.1007/s41809-021-00086-5.
  • Favier, S., & Huettig, F. (2021). Are there core and peripheral syntactic structures? Experimental evidence from Dutch native speakers with varying literacy levels. Lingua, 251: 102991. doi:10.1016/j.lingua.2020.102991.

    Abstract

    Some theorists posit the existence of a ‘core’ grammar that virtually all native speakers acquire, and a ‘peripheral’ grammar that many do not. We investigated the viability of such a categorical distinction in the Dutch language. We first consulted linguists’ intuitions as to the ‘core’ or ‘peripheral’ status of a wide range of grammatical structures. We then tested a selection of core- and peripheral-rated structures on naïve participants with varying levels of literacy experience, using grammaticality judgment as a proxy for receptive knowledge. Overall, participants demonstrated better knowledge of ‘core’ structures than ‘peripheral’ structures, but the considerable variability within these categories was strongly suggestive of a continuum rather than a categorical distinction between them. We also hypothesised that individual differences in the knowledge of core and peripheral structures would reflect participants’ literacy experience. This was supported only by a small trend in our data. The results fit best with the notion that more frequent syntactic structures are mastered by more people than infrequent ones and challenge the received sense of a categorical core-periphery distinction.
  • Favier, S., Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (2021). Literacy can enhance syntactic prediction in spoken language processing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/xge0001042.

    Abstract

    Language comprehenders can use syntactic cues to generate predictions online about upcoming language. Previous research with reading-impaired adults and healthy, low-proficiency adult and child learners suggests that reading skills are related to prediction in spoken language comprehension. Here we investigated whether differences in literacy are also related to predictive spoken language processing in non-reading-impaired proficient adult readers with varying levels of literacy experience. Using the visual world paradigm enabled us to measure prediction based on syntactic cues in the spoken sentence, prior to the (predicted) target word. Literacy experience was found to be the strongest predictor of target anticipation, independent of general cognitive abilities. These findings suggest that a) experience with written language can enhance syntactic prediction of spoken language in normal adult language users, and b) processing skills can be transferred to related tasks (from reading to listening) if the domains involve similar processes (e.g., predictive dependencies) and representations (e.g., syntactic).
  • Favier, S., & Huettig, F. (2021). Long-term written language experience affects grammaticality judgments and usage but not priming of spoken sentences. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 74(8), 1378-1395. doi:10.1177/17470218211005228.

    Abstract

    ‘Book language’ offers a richer linguistic experience than typical conversational speech in terms of its syntactic properties. Here, we investigated the role of long-term syntactic experience on syntactic knowledge and processing. In a pre-registered study with 161 adult native Dutch speakers with varying levels of literacy, we assessed the contribution of individual differences in written language experience to offline and online syntactic processes. Offline syntactic knowledge was assessed as accuracy in an auditory grammaticality judgment task in which we tested violations of four Dutch grammatical norms. Online syntactic processing was indexed by syntactic priming of the Dutch dative alternation, using a comprehension-to-production priming paradigm with auditory presentation. Controlling for the contribution of non-verbal IQ, verbal working memory, and processing speed, we observed a robust effect of literacy experience on the detection of grammatical norm violations in spoken sentences, suggesting that exposure to the syntactic complexity and diversity of written language has specific benefits for general (modality-independent) syntactic knowledge. We replicated previous results by finding robust comprehension-to-production structural priming, both with and without lexical overlap between prime and target. Although literacy experience affected the usage of syntactic alternates in our large sample, it did not modulate their priming. We conclude that amount of experience with written language increases explicit awareness of grammatical norm violations and changes the usage of (PO vs. DO) dative spoken sentences but has no detectable effect on their implicit syntactic priming in proficient language users. These findings constrain theories about the effect of long-term experience on syntactic processing.
  • Fernandes, T., Arunkumar, M., & Huettig, F. (2021). The role of the written script in shaping mirror-image discrimination: Evidence from illiterate, Tamil literate, and Tamil-Latin-alphabet bi-literate adults. Cognition, 206: 104493. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104493.

    Abstract

    Learning a script with mirrored graphs (e.g., d ≠ b) requires overcoming the evolutionary-old perceptual tendency to process mirror images as equivalent. Thus, breaking mirror invariance offers an important tool for understanding cultural re-shaping of evolutionarily ancient cognitive mechanisms. Here we investigated the role of script (i.e., presence vs. absence of mirrored graphs: Latin alphabet vs. Tamil) by revisiting mirror-image processing by illiterate, Tamil monoliterate, and Tamil-Latin-alphabet bi-literate adults. Participants performed two same-different tasks (one orientation-based, another shape-based) on Latin-alphabet letters. Tamil monoliterate were significantly better than illiterate and showed good explicit mirror-image discrimination. However, only bi-literate adults fully broke mirror invariance: slower shape-based judgments for mirrored than identical pairs and reduced disadvantage in orientation-based over shape-based judgments of mirrored pairs. These findings suggest learning a script with mirrored graphs is the strongest force for breaking mirror invariance.

    Additional information

    supplementary material
  • Fisher, N., Hadley, L., Corps, R. E., & Pickering, M. (2021). The effects of dual-task interference in predicting turn-ends in speech and music. Brain Research, 1768: 147571. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2021.147571.

    Abstract

    Determining when a partner’s spoken or musical turn will end requires well-honed predictive abilities. Evidence suggests that our motor systems are activated during perception of both speech and music, and it has been argued that motor simulation is used to predict turn-ends across domains. Here we used a dual-task interference paradigm to investigate whether motor simulation of our partner’s action underlies our ability to make accurate turn-end predictions in speech and in music. Furthermore, we explored how specific this simulation is to the action being predicted. We conducted two experiments, one investigating speech turn-ends, and one investigating music turn-ends. In each, 34 proficient pianists predicted turn-endings while (1) passively listening, (2) producing an effector-specific motor activity (mouth/hand movement), or (3) producing a task- and effector-specific motor activity (mouthing words/fingering a piano melody). In the speech experiment, any movement during speech perception disrupted predictions of spoken turn-ends, whether the movement was task-specific or not. In the music experiment, only task-specific movement (i.e., fingering a piano melody) disrupted predictions of musical turn-ends. These findings support the use of motor simulation to make turn-end predictions in both speech and music but suggest that the specificity of this simulation may differ between domains.
  • Hintz, F., Voeten, C. C., McQueen, J. M., & Scharenborg, O. (2021). The effects of onset and offset masking on the time course of non-native spoken-word recognition in noise. In T. Fitch, C. Lamm, H. Leder, & K. Teßmar-Raible (Eds.), Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2021) (pp. 133-139). Vienna: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Using the visual-word paradigm, the present study investigated the effects of word onset and offset masking on the time course of non-native spoken-word recognition in the presence of background noise. In two experiments, Dutch non-native listeners heard English target words, preceded by carrier sentences that were noise-free (Experiment 1) or contained intermittent noise (Experiment 2). Target words were either onset- or offset-masked or not masked at all. Results showed that onset masking delayed target word recognition more than offset masking did, suggesting that – similar to natives – non-native listeners strongly rely on word onset information during word recognition in noise.

    Additional information

    Link to Preprint on BioRxiv
  • Holler, J., Alday, P. M., Decuyper, C., Geiger, M., Kendrick, K. H., & Meyer, A. S. (2021). Competition reduces response times in multiparty conversation. Frontiers in Psychology, 12: 693124. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.693124.

    Abstract

    Natural conversations are characterized by short transition times between turns. This holds in particular for multi-party conversations. The short turn transitions in everyday conversations contrast sharply with the much longer speech onset latencies observed in laboratory studies where speakers respond to spoken utterances. There are many factors that facilitate speech production in conversational compared to laboratory settings. Here we highlight one of them, the impact of competition for turns. In multi-party conversations, speakers often compete for turns. In quantitative corpus analyses of multi-party conversation, the fastest response determines the recorded turn transition time. In contrast, in dyadic conversations such competition for turns is much less likely to arise, and in laboratory experiments with individual participants it does not arise at all. Therefore, all responses tend to be recorded. Thus, competition for turns may reduce the recorded mean turn transition times in multi-party conversations for a simple statistical reason: slow responses are not included in the means. We report two studies illustrating this point. We first report the results of simulations showing how much the response times in a laboratory experiment would be reduced if, for each trial, instead of recording all responses, only the fastest responses of several participants responding independently on the trial were recorded. We then present results from a quantitative corpus analysis comparing turn transition times in dyadic and triadic conversations. There was no significant group size effect in question-response transition times, where the present speaker often selects the next one, thus reducing competition between speakers. But, as predicted, triads showed shorter turn transition times than dyads for the remaining turn transitions, where competition for the floor was more likely to arise. Together, these data show that turn transition times in conversation should be interpreted in the context of group size, turn transition type, and social setting.
  • Hustá, C., Zheng, X., Papoutsi, C., & Piai, V. (2021). Electrophysiological signatures of conceptual and lexical retrieval from semantic memory. Neuropsychologia, 161: 107988. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2021.107988.

    Abstract

    Retrieval from semantic memory of conceptual and lexical information is essential for producing speech. It is unclear whether there are differences in the neural mechanisms of conceptual and lexical retrieval when spreading activation through semantic memory is initiated by verbal or nonverbal settings. The same twenty participants took part in two EEG experiments. The first experiment examined conceptual and lexical retrieval following nonverbal settings, whereas the second experiment was a replication of previous studies examining conceptual and lexical retrieval following verbal settings. Target pictures were presented after constraining and nonconstraining contexts. In the nonverbal settings, contexts were provided as two priming pictures (e.g., constraining: nest, feather; nonconstraining: anchor, lipstick; target picture: BIRD). In the verbal settings, contexts were provided as sentences (e.g., constraining: “The farmer milked a...”; nonconstraining: “The child drew a...”; target picture: COW). Target pictures were named faster following constraining contexts in both experiments, indicating that conceptual preparation starts before target picture onset in constraining conditions. In the verbal experiment, we replicated the alpha-beta power decreases in constraining relative to nonconstraining conditions before target picture onset. No such power decreases were found in the nonverbal experiment. Power decreases in constraining relative to nonconstraining conditions were significantly different between experiments. Our findings suggest that participants engage in conceptual preparation following verbal and nonverbal settings, albeit differently. The retrieval of a target word, initiated by verbal settings, is associated with alpha-beta power decreases. By contrast, broad conceptual preparation alone, prompted by nonverbal settings, does not seem enough to elicit alpha-beta power decreases. These findings have implications for theories of oscillations and semantic memory.

    Additional information

    1-s2.0-S0028393221002414-mmc1.pdf
  • Janse, E., & Andringa, S. J. (2021). The roles of cognitive abilities and hearing acuity in older adults’ recognition of words taken from fast and spectrally reduced speech. Applied Psycholinguistics, 42(3), 763-790. doi:10.1017/S0142716421000047.

    Abstract

    Previous literature has identified several cognitive abilities as predictors of individual differences in speech perception. Working memory was chief among them, but effects have also been found for processing speed. Most research has been conducted on speech in noise, but fast and unclear articulation also makes listening challenging, particularly for older listeners. As a first step toward specifying the cognitive mechanisms underlying spoken word recognition, we set up this study to determine which factors explain unique variation in word identification accuracy in fast speech, and the extent to which this was affected by further degradation of the speech signal. To that end, 105 older adults were tested on identification accuracy of fast words in unaltered and degraded conditions in which the speech stimuli were low-pass filtered. They were also tested on processing speed, memory, vocabulary knowledge, and hearing sensitivity. A structural equation analysis showed that only memory and hearing sensitivity explained unique variance in word recognition in both listening conditions. Working memory was more strongly associated with performance in the unfiltered than in the filtered condition. These results suggest that memory skills, rather than speed, facilitate the mapping of single words onto stored lexical representations, particularly in conditions of medium difficulty.
  • Jongman, S. R., Khoe, Y. H., & Hintz, F. (2021). Vocabulary size influences spontaneous speech in native language users: Validating the use of automatic speech recognition in individual differences research. Language and Speech, 64(1), 35-51. doi:10.1177/0023830920911079.

    Abstract

    Previous research has shown that vocabulary size affects performance on laboratory word production tasks. Individuals who know many words show faster lexical access and retrieve more words belonging to pre-specified categories than individuals who know fewer words. The present study examined the relationship between receptive vocabulary size and speaking skills as assessed in a natural sentence production task. We asked whether measures derived from spontaneous responses to every-day questions correlate with the size of participants’ vocabulary. Moreover, we assessed the suitability of automatic speech recognition for the analysis of participants’ responses in complex language production data. We found that vocabulary size predicted indices of spontaneous speech: Individuals with a larger vocabulary produced more words and had a higher speech-silence ratio compared to individuals with a smaller vocabulary. Importantly, these relationships were reliably identified using manual and automated transcription methods. Taken together, our results suggest that spontaneous speech elicitation is a useful method to investigate natural language production and that automatic speech recognition can alleviate the burden of labor-intensive speech transcription.
  • Kapteijns, B., & Hintz, F. (2021). Comparing predictors of sentence self-paced reading times: Syntactic complexity versus transitional probability metrics. PLoS One, 16(7): e0254546. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0254546.

    Abstract

    When estimating the influence of sentence complexity on reading, researchers typically opt for one of two main approaches: Measuring syntactic complexity (SC) or transitional probability (TP). Comparisons of the predictive power of both approaches have yielded mixed results. To address this inconsistency, we conducted a self-paced reading experiment. Participants read sentences of varying syntactic complexity. From two alternatives, we selected the set of SC and TP measures, respectively, that provided the best fit to the self-paced reading data. We then compared the contributions of the SC and TP measures to reading times when entered into the same model. Our results showed that both measures explained significant portions of variance in self-paced reading times. Thus, researchers aiming to measure sentence complexity should take both SC and TP into account. All of the analyses were conducted with and without control variables known to influence reading times (word/sentence length, word frequency and word position) to showcase how the effects of SC and TP change in the presence of the control variables.

    Additional information

    supporting information
  • Karaca, F., Brouwer, S., Unsworth, S., & Huettig, F. (2021). Prediction in bilingual children: The missing piece of the puzzle. In E. Kaan, & T. Grüter (Eds.), Prediction in Second Language Processing and Learning (pp. 116-137). Amsterdam: Benjamins.

    Abstract

    A wealth of studies has shown that more proficient monolingual speakers are better at predicting upcoming information during language comprehension. Similarly, prediction skills of adult second language (L2) speakers in their L2 have also been argued to be modulated by their L2 proficiency. How exactly language proficiency and prediction are linked, however, is yet to be systematically investigated. One group of language users which has the potential to provide invaluable insights into this link is bilingual children. In this paper, we compare bilingual children’s prediction skills with those of monolingual children and adult L2 speakers, and show how investigating bilingual children’s prediction skills may contribute to our understanding of how predictive processing works.
  • Kaufeld, G. (2021). Investigating spoken language comprehension as perceptual inference. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • He, J., Meyer, A. S., & Brehm, L. (2021). Concurrent listening affects speech planning and fluency: The roles of representational similarity and capacity limitation. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication, 1-23. doi:10.1080/23273798.2021.1925130.

    Abstract

    In a novel continuous speaking-listening paradigm, we explored how speech planning was affected by concurrent listening. In Experiment 1, Dutch speakers named pictures with high versus low name agreement while ignoring Dutch speech, Chinese speech, or eight-talker babble. Both name agreement and type of auditory input influenced response timing and chunking, suggesting that representational similarity impacts lexical selection and the scope of advance planning in utterance generation. In Experiment 2, Dutch speakers named pictures with high or low name agreement while either ignoring Dutch words, or attending to them for a later memory test. Both name agreement and attention demand influenced response timing and chunking, suggesting that attention demand impacts lexical selection and the planned utterance units in each response. The study indicates that representational similarity and attention demand play important roles in linguistic dual-task interference, and the interference can be managed by adapting when and how to plan speech.

    Additional information

    supplemental material
  • Morey, R. D., Kaschak, M. P., Díez-Álamo, A. M., Glenberg, A. M., Zwaan, R. A., Lakens, D., Ibáñez, A., García, A., Gianelli, C., Jones, J. L., Madden, J., Alifano, F., Bergen, B., Bloxsom, N. G., Bub, D. N., Cai, Z. G., Chartier, C. R., Chatterjee, A., Conwell, E., Cook, S. W. and 25 moreMorey, R. D., Kaschak, M. P., Díez-Álamo, A. M., Glenberg, A. M., Zwaan, R. A., Lakens, D., Ibáñez, A., García, A., Gianelli, C., Jones, J. L., Madden, J., Alifano, F., Bergen, B., Bloxsom, N. G., Bub, D. N., Cai, Z. G., Chartier, C. R., Chatterjee, A., Conwell, E., Cook, S. W., Davis, J. D., Evers, E., Girard, S., Harter, D., Hartung, F., Herrera, E., Huettig, F., Humphries, S., Juanchich, M., Kühne, K., Lu, S., Lynes, T., Masson, M. E. J., Ostarek, M., Pessers, S., Reglin, R., Steegen, S., Thiessen, E. D., Thomas, L. E., Trott, S., Vandekerckhove, J., Vanpaemel, W., Vlachou, M., Williams, K., & Ziv-Crispel, N. (2021). A pre-registered, multi-lab non-replication of the Action-sentence Compatibility Effect (ACE). Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. Advance online publication. doi:10.3758/s13423-021-01927-8.

    Abstract

    The Action-sentence Compatibility Effect (ACE) is a well-known demonstration of the role of motor activity in the comprehension of language. Participants are asked to make sensibility judgments on sentences by producing movements toward the body or away from the body. The ACE is the finding that movements are faster when the direction of the movement (e.g., toward) matches the direction of the action in the to-be-judged sentence (e.g., Art gave you the pen describes action toward you). We report on a pre- registered, multi-lab replication of one version of the ACE. The results show that none of the 18 labs involved in the study observed a reliable ACE, and that the meta-analytic estimate of the size of the ACE was essentially zero.
  • Onnis, L., & Huettig, F. (2021). Can prediction and retrodiction explain whether frequent multi-word phrases are accessed ’precompiled’ from memory or compositionally constructed on the fly? Brain Research, 1772: 147674. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2021.147674.

    Abstract

    An important debate on the architecture of the language faculty has been the extent to which it relies on a compositional system that constructs larger units from morphemes to words to phrases to utterances on the fly and in real time using grammatical rules; or a system that chunks large preassembled, stored units of language from memory; or some combination of both approaches. Good empirical evidence exists for both ’computed’ and ’large stored’ forms in language, but little is known about what shapes multi-word storage / access or compositional processing. Here we explored whether predictive and retrodictive processes are a likely determinant of multi-word storage / processing. Our results suggest that forward and backward predictability are independently informative in determining the lexical cohesiveness of multi-word phrases. In addition, our results call for a reevaluation of the role of retrodiction in contemporary language processing accounts (cf. Ferreira and Chantavarin 2018).
  • Ota, M., San Jose, A., & Smith, K. (2021). The emergence of word-internal repetition through iterated learning: Explaining the mismatch between learning biases and language design. Cognition, 210: 104585. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104585.

    Abstract

    The idea that natural language is shaped by biases in learning plays a key role in our understanding of how human language is structured, but its corollary that there should be a correspondence between typological generalisations and ease of acquisition is not always supported. For example, natural languages tend to avoid close repetitions of consonants within a word, but developmental evidence suggests that, if anything, words containing sound repetitions are more, not less, likely to be acquired than those without. In this study, we use word-internal repetition as a test case to provide a cultural evolutionary explanation of when and how learning biases impact on language design. Two artificial language experiments showed that adult speakers possess a bias for both consonant and vowel repetitions when learning novel words, but the effects of this bias were observable in language transmission only when there was a relatively high learning pressure on the lexicon. Based on these results, we argue that whether the design of a language reflects biases in learning depends on the relative strength of pressures from learnability and communication efficiency exerted on the linguistic system during cultural transmission.

    Additional information

    supplementary data data
  • Hu, Y., Lv, Q., Pascual, E., Liang, J., & Huettig, F. (2021). Syntactic priming in illiterate and literate older Chinese adults. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science, 5, 267-286. doi:10.1007/s41809-021-00082-9.

    Abstract

    Does life-long literacy experience modulate syntactic priming in spoken language processing? Such a postulated influence is compatible with usage-based theories of language processing that propose that all linguistic skills are a function of accumulated experience with language across life. Here we investigated the effect of literacy experience on syntactic priming in Mandarin in sixty Chinese older adults from Hebei province. Thirty participants were completely illiterate and thirty were literate Mandarin speakers of similar age and socioeconomic background. We first observed usage differences: literates produced robustly more prepositional object (PO) constructions than illiterates. This replicates, with a different sample, language, and cultural background, previous findings that literacy experience affects (baseline) usage of PO and DO transitive alternates. We also observed robust syntactic priming for double-object (DO), but not prepositional-object (PO) dative alternations for both groups. The magnitude of this DO priming however was higher in literates than in illiterates. We also observed that cumulative adaptation in syntactic priming differed as a function of literacy. Cumulative syntactic priming in literates appears to be related mostly to comprehending others, whereas in illiterates it is also associated with repeating self-productions. Further research is needed to confirm this interpretation.
  • Raviv, L., De Heer Kloots, M., & Meyer, A. S. (2021). What makes a language easy to learn? A preregistered study on how systematic structure and community size affect language learnability. Cognition, 210: 104620. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104620.

    Abstract

    Cross-linguistic differences in morphological complexity could have important consequences for language learning. Specifically, it is often assumed that languages with more regular, compositional, and transparent grammars are easier to learn by both children and adults. Moreover, it has been shown that such grammars are more likely to evolve in bigger communities. Together, this suggests that some languages are acquired faster than others, and that this advantage can be traced back to community size and to the degree of systematicity in the language. However, the causal relationship between systematic linguistic structure and language learnability has not been formally tested, despite its potential importance for theories on language evolution, second language learning, and the origin of linguistic diversity. In this pre-registered study, we experimentally tested the effects of community size and systematic structure on adult language learning. We compared the acquisition of different yet comparable artificial languages that were created by big or small groups in a previous communication experiment, which varied in their degree of systematic linguistic structure. We asked (a) whether more structured languages were easier to learn; and (b) whether languages created by the bigger groups were easier to learn. We found that highly systematic languages were learned faster and more accurately by adults, but that the relationship between language learnability and linguistic structure was typically non-linear: high systematicity was advantageous for learning, but learners did not benefit from partly or semi-structured languages. Community size did not affect learnability: languages that evolved in big and small groups were equally learnable, and there was no additional advantage for languages created by bigger groups beyond their degree of systematic structure. Furthermore, our results suggested that predictability is an important advantage of systematic structure: participants who learned more structured languages were better at generalizing these languages to new, unfamiliar meanings, and different participants who learned the same more structured languages were more likely to produce similar labels. That is, systematic structure may allow speakers to converge effortlessly, such that strangers can immediately understand each other.
  • Reifegerste, J., Meyer, A. S., Zwitserlood, P., & Ullman, M. T. (2021). Aging affects steaks more than knives: Evidence that the processing of words related to motor skills is relatively spared in aging. Brain and Language, 218: 104941. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2021.104941.

    Abstract

    Lexical-processing declines are a hallmark of aging. However, the extent of these declines may vary as a function of different factors. Motivated by findings from neurodegenerative diseases and healthy aging, we tested whether ‘motor-relatedness’ (the degree to which words are associated with particular human body movements) might moderate such declines. We investigated this question by examining data from three experiments. The experiments were carried out in different languages (Dutch, German, English) using different tasks (lexical decision, picture naming), and probed verbs and nouns, in all cases controlling for potentially confounding variables (e.g., frequency, age-of-acquisition, imageability). Whereas ‘non-motor words’ (e.g., steak) showed age-related performance decreases in all three experiments, ‘motor words’ (e.g., knife) yielded either smaller decreases (in one experiment) or no decreases (in two experiments). The findings suggest that motor-relatedness can attenuate or even prevent age-related lexical declines, perhaps due to the relative sparing of neural circuitry underlying such words.

    Additional information

    supplementary material
  • Rodd, J., Decuyper, C., Bosker, H. R., & Ten Bosch, L. (2021). A tool for efficient and accurate segmentation of speech data: Announcing POnSS. Behavior Research Methods, 53, 744-756. doi:10.3758/s13428-020-01449-6.

    Abstract

    Despite advances in automatic speech recognition (ASR), human input is still essential to produce research-grade segmentations of speech data. Con- ventional approaches to manual segmentation are very labour-intensive. We introduce POnSS, a browser-based system that is specialized for the task of segmenting the onsets and offsets of words, that combines aspects of ASR with limited human input. In developing POnSS, we identified several sub- tasks of segmentation, and implemented each of these as separate interfaces for the annotators to interact with, to streamline their task as much as possible. We evaluated segmentations made with POnSS against a base- line of segmentations of the same data made conventionally in Praat. We observed that POnSS achieved comparable reliability to segmentation us- ing Praat, but required 23% less annotator time investment. Because of its greater efficiency without sacrificing reliability, POnSS represents a distinct methodological advance for the segmentation of speech data.
  • San Jose, A., Roelofs, A., & Meyer, A. S. (2021). Modeling the distributional dynamics of attention and semantic interference in word production. Cognition, 211: 104636. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104636.

    Abstract

    In recent years, it has become clear that attention plays an important role in spoken word production. Some of this evidence comes from distributional analyses of reaction time (RT) in regular picture naming and picture-word interference. Yet we lack a mechanistic account of how the properties of RT distributions come to reflect attentional processes and how these processes may in turn modulate the amount of conflict between lexical representations. Here, we present a computational account according to which attentional lapses allow for existing conflict to build up unsupervised on a subset of trials, thus modulating the shape of the resulting RT distribution. Our process model resolves discrepancies between outcomes of previous studies on semantic interference. Moreover, the model's predictions were confirmed in a new experiment where participants' motivation to remain attentive determined the size and distributional locus of semantic interference in picture naming. We conclude that process modeling of RT distributions importantly improves our understanding of the interplay between attention and conflict in word production. Our model thus provides a framework for interpreting distributional analyses of RT data in picture naming tasks.
  • Severijnen, G. G. A., Bosker, H. R., Piai, V., & McQueen, J. M. (2021). Listeners track talker-specific prosody to deal with talker-variability. Brain Research, 1769: 147605. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2021.147605.

    Abstract

    One of the challenges in speech perception is that listeners must deal with considerable segmental and suprasegmental variability in the acoustic signal due to differences between talkers. Most previous studies have focused on how listeners deal with segmental variability. In this EEG experiment, we investigated whether listeners track talker-specific usage of suprasegmental cues to lexical stress to recognize spoken words correctly. In a three-day training phase, Dutch participants learned to map non-word minimal stress pairs onto different object referents (e.g., USklot meant “lamp”; usKLOT meant “train”). These non-words were produced by two male talkers. Critically, each talker used only one suprasegmental cue to signal stress (e.g., Talker A used only F0 and Talker B only intensity). We expected participants to learn which talker used which cue to signal stress. In the test phase, participants indicated whether spoken sentences including these non-words were correct (“The word for lamp is…”). We found that participants were slower to indicate that a stimulus was correct if the non-word was produced with the unexpected cue (e.g., Talker A using intensity). That is, if in training Talker A used F0 to signal stress, participants experienced a mismatch between predicted and perceived phonological word-forms if, at test, Talker A unexpectedly used intensity to cue stress. In contrast, the N200 amplitude, an event-related potential related to phonological prediction, was not modulated by the cue mismatch. Theoretical implications of these contrasting results are discussed. The behavioral findings illustrate talker-specific prediction of prosodic cues, picked up through perceptual learning during training.
  • Smith, A. C., Monaghan, P., & Huettig, F. (2021). The effect of orthographic systems on the developing reading system: Typological and computational analyses. Psychological Review, 128(1), 125-159. doi:10.1037/rev0000257.

    Abstract

    Orthographic systems vary dramatically in the extent to which they encode a language’s phonological and lexico-semantic structure. Studies of the effects of orthographic transparency suggest that such variation is likely to have major implications for how the reading system operates. However, such studies have been unable to examine in isolation the contributory effect of transparency on reading due to co-varying linguistic or socio-cultural factors. We first investigated the phonological properties of languages using the range of the world’s orthographic systems (alphabetic; alphasyllabic; consonantal; syllabic; logographic), and found that, once geographical proximity is taken into account, phonological properties do not relate to orthographic system. We then explored the processing implications of orthographic variation by training a connectionist implementation of the triangle model of reading on the range of orthographic systems whilst controlling for phonological and semantic structure. We show that the triangle model is effective as a universal model of reading, able to replicate key behavioural and neuroscientific results. Importantly, the model also generates new predictions deriving from an explicit description of the effects of orthographic transparency on how reading is realised and defines the consequences of orthographic systems on reading processes.
  • Speed, L., Chen, J., Huettig, F., & Majid, A. (2021). Classifier categories reflect, but do not affect conceptual organization. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 47(4), 625-640. doi:10.1037/xlm0000967.

    Abstract

    Do we structure object-related conceptual information according to real-world sensorimotor experience, or can it also be shaped by linguistic information? This study investigates whether a feature of language coded in grammar—numeral classifiers—affects the conceptual representation of objects. We compared speakers of Mandarin (a classifier language) with speakers of Dutch (a language without classifiers) on how they judged object similarity in four studies. In the first three studies, participants had to rate how similar a target object was to four comparison objects, one of which shared a classifier with the target. Objects were presented as either words or pictures. Overall, the target object was always rated as most similar to the object with the shared classifier, but this was the case regardless of the language of the participant. In a final study employing a successive pile-sorting task, we also found that the underlying object concepts were similar for speakers of Mandarin and Dutch. Speakers of a non-classifier language are therefore sensitive to the same conceptual similarities that underlie classifier systems in a classifier language. Classifier systems may therefore reflect conceptual structure, rather than shape it.
  • Tilmatine, M., Hubers, F., & Hintz, F. (2021). Exploring individual differences in recognizing idiomatic expressions in context. Journal of Cognition, 4(1): 37. doi:10.5334/joc.183.

    Abstract

    Written language comprehension requires readers to integrate incoming information with stored mental knowledge to construct meaning. Literally plausible idiomatic expressions can activate both figurative and literal interpretations, which convey different meanings. Previous research has shown that contexts biasing the figurative or literal interpretation of an idiom can facilitate its processing. Moreover, there is evidence that processing of idiomatic expressions is subject to individual differences in linguistic knowledge and cognitive-linguistic skills. It is therefore conceivable that individuals vary in the extent to which they experience context-induced facilitation in processing idiomatic expressions. To explore the interplay between reader-related variables and contextual facilitation, we conducted a self-paced reading experiment. We recruited participants who had recently completed a battery of 33 behavioural tests measuring individual differences in linguistic knowledge, general cognitive skills and linguistic processing skills. In the present experiment, a subset of these participants read idiomatic expressions that were either presented in isolation or preceded by a figuratively or literally biasing context. We conducted analyses on the reading times of idiom-final nouns and the word thereafter (spill-over region) across the three conditions, including participants’ scores from the individual differences battery. Our results showed no main effect of the preceding context, but substantial variation in contextual facilitation between readers. We observed main effects of participants’ word reading ability and non-verbal intelligence on reading times as well as an interaction between condition and linguistic knowledge. We encourage interested researchers to exploit the present dataset for follow-up studies on individual differences in idiom processing.
  • Vágvölgyi, R., Bergström, K., Bulajić, A., Klatte, M., Fernandes, T., Grosche, M., Huettig, F., Rüsseler, J., & Lachmann, T. (2021). Functional illiteracy and developmental dyslexia: Looking for common roots. A systematic review. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science, 5, 159-179. doi:10.1007/s41809-021-00074-9.

    Abstract

    A considerable amount of the population in more economically developed countries are functionally illiterate (i.e., low literate). Despite some years of schooling and basic reading skills, these individuals cannot properly read and write and, as a consequence have problems to understand even short texts. An often-discussed approach (Greenberg et al., 1997) assumes weak phonological processing skills coupled with untreated developmental dyslexia as possible causes of functional illiteracy. Although there is some data suggesting commonalities between low literacy and developmental dyslexia, it is still not clear, whether these reflect shared consequences (i.e., cognitive and behavioral profile) or shared causes. The present systematic review aims at exploring the similarities and differences identified in empirical studies investigating both functional illiterate and developmental dyslexic samples. Nine electronic databases were searched in order to identify all quantitative studies published in English or German. Although a broad search strategy and few limitations were applied, only 5 studies have been identified adequate from the resulting 9269 references. The results point to the lack of studies directly comparing functional illiterate with developmental dyslexic samples. Moreover, a huge variance has been identified between the studies in how they approached the concept of functional illiteracy, particularly when it came to critical categories such the applied definition, terminology, criteria for inclusion in the sample, research focus, and outcome measures. The available data highlight the need for more direct comparisons in order to understand what extent functional illiteracy and dyslexia share common characteristics.

    Additional information

    supplementary materials
  • Van Paridon, J., & Thompson, B. (2021). subs2vec: Word embeddings from subtitles in 55 languages. Behavior Research Methods, 53(2), 629-655. doi:10.3758/s13428-020-01406-3.

    Abstract

    This paper introduces a novel collection of word embeddings, numerical representations of lexical semantics, in 55 languages, trained on a large corpus of pseudo-conversational speech transcriptions from television shows and movies. The embeddings were trained on the OpenSubtitles corpus using the fastText implementation of the skipgram algorithm. Performance comparable with (and in some cases exceeding) embeddings trained on non-conversational (Wikipedia) text is reported on standard benchmark evaluation datasets. A novel evaluation method of particular relevance to psycholinguists is also introduced: prediction of experimental lexical norms in multiple languages. The models, as well as code for reproducing the models and all analyses reported in this paper (implemented as a user-friendly Python package), are freely available at: https://github.com/jvparidon/subs2vec.

    Additional information

    https://github.com/jvparidon/subs2vec
  • Van Paridon, J. (2021). Speaking while listening: Language processing in speech shadowing and translation. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Van Paridon, J., Ostarek, M., Arunkumar, M., & Huettig, F. (2021). Does neuronal recycling result in destructive competition? The influence of learning to read on the recognition of faces. Psychological Science, 32, 459-465. doi:10.1177/0956797620971652.

    Abstract

    Written language, a human cultural invention, is far too recent for dedicated neural infrastructure to have evolved in its service. Culturally newly acquired skills (e.g. reading) thus ‘recycle’ evolutionarily older circuits that originally evolved for different, but similar functions (e.g. visual object recognition). The destructive competition hypothesis predicts that this neuronal recycling has detrimental behavioral effects on the cognitive functions a cortical network originally evolved for. In a study with 97 literate, low-literate, and illiterate participants from the same socioeconomic background we find that even after adjusting for cognitive ability and test-taking familiarity, learning to read is associated with an increase, rather than a decrease, in object recognition abilities. These results are incompatible with the claim that neuronal recycling results in destructive competition and consistent with the possibility that learning to read instead fine-tunes general object recognition mechanisms, a hypothesis that needs further neuroscientific investigation.

    Additional information

    supplemental material
  • Wolf, M. C., Meyer, A. S., Rowland, C. F., & Hintz, F. (2021). The effects of input modality, word difficulty and reading experience on word recognition accuracy. Collabra: Psychology, 7(1): 24919. doi:10.1525/collabra.24919.

    Abstract

    Language users encounter words in at least two different modalities. Arguably, the most frequent encounters are in spoken or written form. Previous research has shown that – compared to the spoken modality – written language features more difficult words. Thus, frequent reading might have effects on word recognition. In the present study, we investigated 1) whether input modality (spoken, written, or bimodal) has an effect on word recognition accuracy, 2) whether this modality effect interacts with word difficulty, 3) whether the interaction of word difficulty and reading experience impacts word recognition accuracy, and 4) whether this interaction is influenced by input modality. To do so, we re-analysed a dataset that was collected in the context of a vocabulary test development to assess in which modality test words should be presented. Participants had carried out a word recognition task, where non-words and words of varying difficulty were presented in auditory, visual and audio-visual modalities. In addition to this main experiment, participants had completed a receptive vocabulary and an author recognition test to measure their reading experience. Our re-analyses did not reveal evidence for an effect of input modality on word recognition accuracy, nor for interactions with word difficulty or language experience. Word difficulty interacted with reading experience in that frequent readers were more accurate in recognizing difficult words than individuals who read less frequently. Practical implications are discussed.
  • Bosker, H. R., & Cooke, M. (2020). Enhanced amplitude modulations contribute to the Lombard intelligibility benefit: Evidence from the Nijmegen Corpus of Lombard Speech. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 147: 721. doi:10.1121/10.0000646.

    Abstract

    Speakers adjust their voice when talking in noise, which is known as Lombard speech. These acoustic adjustments facilitate speech comprehension in noise relative to plain speech (i.e., speech produced in quiet). However, exactly which characteristics of Lombard speech drive this intelligibility benefit in noise remains unclear. This study assessed the contribution of enhanced amplitude modulations to the Lombard speech intelligibility benefit by demonstrating that (1) native speakers of Dutch in the Nijmegen Corpus of Lombard Speech (NiCLS) produce more pronounced amplitude modulations in noise vs. in quiet; (2) more enhanced amplitude modulations correlate positively with intelligibility in a speech-in-noise perception experiment; (3) transplanting the amplitude modulations from Lombard speech onto plain speech leads to an intelligibility improvement, suggesting that enhanced amplitude modulations in Lombard speech contribute towards intelligibility in noise. Results are discussed in light of recent neurobiological models of speech perception with reference to neural oscillators phase-locking to the amplitude modulations in speech, guiding the processing of speech.
  • Bosker, H. R., Peeters, D., & Holler, J. (2020). How visual cues to speech rate influence speech perception. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73(10), 1523-1536. doi:10.1177/1747021820914564.

    Abstract

    Spoken words are highly variable and therefore listeners interpret speech sounds relative to the surrounding acoustic context, such as the speech rate of a preceding sentence. For instance, a vowel midway between short /ɑ/ and long /a:/ in Dutch is perceived as short /ɑ/ in the context of preceding slow speech, but as long /a:/ if preceded by a fast context. Despite the well-established influence of visual articulatory cues on speech comprehension, it remains unclear whether visual cues to speech rate also influence subsequent spoken word recognition. In two ‘Go Fish’-like experiments, participants were presented with audio-only (auditory speech + fixation cross), visual-only (mute videos of talking head), and audiovisual (speech + videos) context sentences, followed by ambiguous target words containing vowels midway between short /ɑ/ and long /a:/. In Experiment 1, target words were always presented auditorily, without visual articulatory cues. Although the audio-only and audiovisual contexts induced a rate effect (i.e., more long /a:/ responses after fast contexts), the visual-only condition did not. When, in Experiment 2, target words were presented audiovisually, rate effects were observed in all three conditions, including visual-only. This suggests that visual cues to speech rate in a context sentence influence the perception of following visual target cues (e.g., duration of lip aperture), which at an audiovisual integration stage bias participants’ target categorization responses. These findings contribute to a better understanding of how what we see influences what we hear.
  • Bosker, H. R., Sjerps, M. J., & Reinisch, E. (2020). Spectral contrast effects are modulated by selective attention in ‘cocktail party’ settings. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 82, 1318-1332. doi:10.3758/s13414-019-01824-2.

    Abstract

    Speech sounds are perceived relative to spectral properties of surrounding speech. For instance, target words ambiguous between /bɪt/ (with low F1) and /bɛt/ (with high F1) are more likely to be perceived as “bet” after a ‘low F1’ sentence, but as “bit” after a ‘high F1’ sentence. However, it is unclear how these spectral contrast effects (SCEs) operate in multi-talker listening conditions. Recently, Feng and Oxenham [(2018b). J.Exp.Psychol.-Hum.Percept.Perform. 44(9), 1447–1457] reported that selective attention affected SCEs to a small degree, using two simultaneously presented sentences produced by a single talker. The present study assessed the role of selective attention in more naturalistic ‘cocktail party’ settings, with 200 lexically unique sentences, 20 target words, and different talkers. Results indicate that selective attention to one talker in one ear (while ignoring another talker in the other ear) modulates SCEs in such a way that only the spectral properties of the attended talker influences target perception. However, SCEs were much smaller in multi-talker settings (Experiment 2) than those in single-talker settings (Experiment 1). Therefore, the influence of SCEs on speech comprehension in more naturalistic settings (i.e., with competing talkers) may be smaller than estimated based on studies without competing talkers.

    Additional information

    13414_2019_1824_MOESM1_ESM.docx
  • Bosker, H. R., Sjerps, M. J., & Reinisch, E. (2020). Temporal contrast effects in human speech perception are immune to selective attention. Scientific Reports, 10: 5607. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-62613-8.

    Abstract

    Two fundamental properties of perception are selective attention and perceptual contrast, but how these two processes interact remains unknown. Does an attended stimulus history exert a larger contrastive influence on the perception of a following target than unattended stimuli? Dutch listeners categorized target sounds with a reduced prefix “ge-” marking tense (e.g., ambiguous between gegaan-gaan “gone-go”). In ‘single talker’ Experiments 1–2, participants perceived the reduced syllable (reporting gegaan) when the target was heard after a fast sentence, but not after a slow sentence (reporting gaan). In ‘selective attention’ Experiments 3–5, participants listened to two simultaneous sentences from two different talkers, followed by the same target sounds, with instructions to attend only one of the two talkers. Critically, the speech rates of attended and unattended talkers were found to equally influence target perception – even when participants could watch the attended talker speak. In fact, participants’ target perception in ‘selective attention’ Experiments 3–5 did not differ from participants who were explicitly instructed to divide their attention equally across the two talkers (Experiment 6). This suggests that contrast effects of speech rate are immune to selective attention, largely operating prior to attentional stream segregation in the auditory processing hierarchy.

    Additional information

    Supplementary information
  • Brehm, L., Hussey, E., & Christianson, K. (2020). The role of word frequency and morpho-orthography in agreement processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 35(1), 58-77. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1631456.

    Abstract

    Agreement attraction in comprehension (when an ungrammatical verb is read quickly if preceded by a feature-matching local noun) is well described by a cue-based retrieval framework. This suggests a role for lexical retrieval in attraction. To examine this, we manipulated two probabilistic factors known to affect lexical retrieval: local noun word frequency and morpho-orthography (agreement morphology realised with or without –s endings) in a self-paced reading study. Noun number and word frequency affected noun and verb region reading times, with higher-frequency words not eliciting attraction. Morpho-orthography impacted verb processing but not attraction: atypical plurals led to slower verb reading times regardless of verb number. Exploratory individual difference analyses further underscore the importance of lexical retrieval dynamics in sentence processing. This provides evidence that agreement operates via a cue-based retrieval mechanism over lexical representations that vary in their strength and association to number features.

    Additional information

    Supplemental material
  • Chan, R. W., Alday, P. M., Zou-Williams, L., Lushington, K., Schlesewsky, M., Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, I., & Immink, M. A. (2020). Focused-attention meditation increases cognitive control during motor sequence performance: Evidence from the N2 cortical evoked potential. Behavioural Brain Research, 384: 112536. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2020.112536.

    Abstract

    Previous work found that single-session focused attention meditation (FAM) enhanced motor sequence learning through increased cognitive control as a mechanistic action, although electrophysiological correlates of sequence learning performance following FAM were not investigated. We measured the persistent frontal N2 event-related potential (ERP) that is closely related to cognitive control processes and its ability to predict behavioural measures. Twenty-nine participants were randomised to one of three conditions reflecting the level of FAM experienced prior to a serial reaction time task (SRTT): 21 sessions of FAM (FAM21, N = 12), a single FAM session (FAM1, N = 9) or no preceding FAM control (Control, N = 8). Continuous 64-channel EEG were recorded during SRTT and N2 amplitudes for correct trials were extracted. Component amplitude, regions of interests, and behavioural outcomes were compared using mixed effects regression models between groups. FAM21 exhibited faster reaction time performances in majority of the learning blocks compared to FAM1 and Control. FAM21 also demonstrated a significantly more pronounced N2 over majority of anterior and central regions of interests during SRTT compared to the other groups. When N2 amplitudes were modelled against general learning performance, FAM21 showed the greatest rate of amplitude decline over anterior and central regions. The combined results suggest that FAM training provided greater cognitive control enhancement for improved general performance, and less pronounced effects for sequence-specific learning performance compared to the other groups. Importantly, FAM training facilitates dynamic modulation of cognitive control: lower levels of general learning performance was supported by greater levels of activation, whilst higher levels of general learning exhibited less activation.
  • Cross, Z. R., Santamaria, A., Corcoran, A. W., Chatburn, A., Alday, P. M., Coussens, S., & Kohler, M. J. (2020). Individual alpha frequency modulates sleep-related emotional memory consolidation. Neuropsychologia, 148: 107660. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2020.107660.

    Abstract

    Alpha-band oscillatory activity is involved in modulating memory and attention. However, few studies have investigated individual differences in oscillatory activity during the encoding of emotional memory, particularly in sleep paradigms where sleep is thought to play an active role in memory consolidation. The current study aimed to address the question of whether individual alpha frequency (IAF) modulates the consolidation of declarative memory across periods of sleep and wake. 22 participants aged 18 – 41 years (mean age = 25.77) viewed 120 emotionally valenced images (positive, negative, neutral) and completed a baseline memory task before a 2hr afternoon sleep opportunity and an equivalent period of wake. Following the sleep and wake conditions, participants were required to distinguish between 120 learned (target) images and 120 new (distractor) images. This method allowed us to delineate the role of different oscillatory components of sleep and wake states in the emotional modulation of memory. Linear mixed-effects models revealed interactions between IAF, rapid eye movement sleep theta power, and slow-wave sleep slow oscillatory density on memory outcomes. These results highlight the importance of individual factors in the EEG in modulating oscillatory-related memory consolidation and subsequent behavioural outcomes and test predictions proposed by models of sleep-based memory consolidation.

    Additional information

    supplementary data
  • Dempsey, J., & Brehm, L. (2020). Can propositional biases modulate syntactic repair processes? Insights from preceding comprehension questions. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 32(5-6), 543-552. doi:10.1080/20445911.2020.1803884.

    Abstract

    There is an ongoing debate about whether discourse biases can constrain sentence processing. Previous work has shown comprehension question accuracy to decrease for temporarily ambiguous sentences preceded by a context biasing towards an initial misinterpretation, suggesting a role of context for modulating comprehension. However, this creates limited modulation of reading times at the disambiguating word, suggesting initial syntactic processing may be unaffected by context [Christianson & Luke, 2011. Context strengthens initial misinterpretations of text. Scientific Studies of Reading, 15(2), 136–166]. The current experiments examine whether propositional and structural content from preceding comprehension questions can cue readers to expect certain structures in temporarily ambiguous garden-path sentences. The central finding is that syntactic repair processes remain unaffected while reading times in other regions are modulated by preceding questions. This suggests that reading strategies can be superficially influenced by preceding comprehension questions without impacting the fidelity of ultimate (mis)representations.

    Additional information

    pecp_a_1803884_sm1217.zip
  • Ergin, R., Raviv, L., Senghas, A., Padden, C., & Sandler, W. (2020). Community structure affects convergence on uniform word orders: Evidence from emerging sign languages. In A. Ravignani, C. Barbieri, M. Flaherty, Y. Jadoul, E. Lattenkamp, H. Little, M. Martins, K. Mudd, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference (Evolang13) (pp. 84-86). Nijmegen: The Evolution of Language Conferences.
  • Favier, S. (2020). Individual differences in syntactic knowledge and processing: Exploring the role of literacy experience. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • González Alonso, J., Alemán Bañón, J., DeLuca, V., Miller, D., Pereira Soares, S. M., Puig-Mayenco, E., Slaats, S., & Rothman, J. (2020). Event related potentials at initial exposure in third language acquisition: Implications from an artificial mini-grammar study. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 56: 100939. doi:10.1016/j.jneuroling.2020.100939.

    Abstract

    The present article examines the proposal that typology is a major factor guiding transfer selectivity in L3/Ln acquisition. We tested first exposure in L3/Ln using two artificial languages (ALs) lexically based in English and Spanish, focusing on gender agreement between determiners and nouns, and between nouns and adjectives. 50 L1 Spanish-L2 English speakers took part in the experiment. After receiving implicit training in one of the ALs (Mini-Spanish, N = 26; Mini-English, N = 24), gender violations elicited a fronto-lateral negativity in Mini-English in the earliest time window (200–500 ms), although this was not followed by any other differences in subsequent periods. This effect was highly localized, surfacing only in electrodes of the right-anterior region. In contrast, gender violations in Mini-Spanish elicited a broadly distributed positivity in the 300–600 ms time window. While we do not find typical indices of grammatical processing such as the P600 component, we believe that the between-groups differential appearance of the positivity for gender violations in the 300–600 ms time window reflects differential allocation of attentional resources as a function of the ALs’ lexical similarity to English or Spanish. We take these differences in attention to be precursors of the processes involved in transfer source selection in L3/Ln.
  • Hashemzadeh, M., Kaufeld, G., White, M., Martin, A. E., & Fyshe, A. (2020). From language to language-ish: How brain-like is an LSTM representation of nonsensical language stimuli? In Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020 (pp. 645-655).

    Abstract

    The representations generated by many mod- els of language (word embeddings, recurrent neural networks and transformers) correlate to brain activity recorded while people read. However, these decoding results are usually based on the brain’s reaction to syntactically and semantically sound language stimuli. In this study, we asked: how does an LSTM (long short term memory) language model, trained (by and large) on semantically and syntac- tically intact language, represent a language sample with degraded semantic or syntactic information? Does the LSTM representation still resemble the brain’s reaction? We found that, even for some kinds of nonsensical lan- guage, there is a statistically significant rela- tionship between the brain’s activity and the representations of an LSTM. This indicates that, at least in some instances, LSTMs and the human brain handle nonsensical data similarly.
  • Hintz, F., Dijkhuis, M., Van 't Hoff, V., McQueen, J. M., & Meyer, A. S. (2020). A behavioural dataset for studying individual differences in language skills. Scientific Data, 7: 429. doi:10.1038/s41597-020-00758-x.

    Abstract

    This resource contains data from 112 Dutch adults (18–29 years of age) who completed the Individual Differences in Language Skills test battery that included 33 behavioural tests assessing language skills and domain-general cognitive skills likely involved in language tasks. The battery included tests measuring linguistic experience (e.g. vocabulary size, prescriptive grammar knowledge), general cognitive skills (e.g. working memory, non-verbal intelligence) and linguistic processing skills (word production/comprehension, sentence production/comprehension). Testing was done in a lab-based setting resulting in high quality data due to tight monitoring of the experimental protocol and to the use of software and hardware that were optimized for behavioural testing. Each participant completed the battery twice (i.e., two test days of four hours each). We provide the raw data from all tests on both days as well as pre-processed data that were used to calculate various reliability measures (including internal consistency and test-retest reliability). We encourage other researchers to use this resource for conducting exploratory and/or targeted analyses of individual differences in language and general cognitive skills.
  • Hintz*, F., Jongman*, S. R., Dijkhuis, M., Van 't Hoff, V., McQueen, J. M., & Meyer, A. S. (2020). Shared lexical access processes in speaking and listening? An individual differences study. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 46(6), 1048-1063. doi:10.1037/xlm0000768.

    Abstract

    - * indicates joint first authorship - Lexical access is a core component of word processing. In order to produce or comprehend a word, language users must access word forms in their mental lexicon. However, despite its involvement in both tasks, previous research has often studied lexical access in either production or comprehension alone. Therefore, it is unknown to which extent lexical access processes are shared across both tasks. Picture naming and auditory lexical decision are considered good tools for studying lexical access. Both of them are speeded tasks. Given these commonalities, another open question concerns the involvement of general cognitive abilities (e.g., processing speed) in both linguistic tasks. In the present study, we addressed these questions. We tested a large group of young adults enrolled in academic and vocational courses. Participants completed picture naming and auditory lexical decision tasks as well as a battery of tests assessing non-verbal processing speed, vocabulary, and non-verbal intelligence. Our results suggest that the lexical access processes involved in picture naming and lexical decision are related but less closely than one might have thought. Moreover, reaction times in picture naming and lexical decision depended as least as much on general processing speed as on domain-specific linguistic processes (i.e., lexical access processes).
  • Hintz, F., Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (2020). Activating words beyond the unfolding sentence: Contributions of event simulation and word associations to discourse reading. Neuropsychologia, 141: 107409. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2020.107409.

    Abstract

    Previous studies have shown that during comprehension readers activate words beyond the unfolding sentence. An open question concerns the mechanisms underlying this behavior. One proposal is that readers mentally simulate the described event and activate related words that might be referred to as the discourse further unfolds. Another proposal is that activation between words spreads in an automatic, associative fashion. The empirical support for these proposals is mixed. Therefore, theoretical accounts differ with regard to how much weight they place on the contributions of these sources to sentence comprehension. In the present study, we attempted to assess the contributions of event simulation and lexical associations to discourse reading, using event-related brain potentials (ERPs). Participants read target words, which were preceded by associatively related words either appearing in a coherent discourse event (Experiment 1) or in sentences that did not form a coherent discourse event (Experiment 2). Contextually unexpected target words that were associatively related to the described events elicited a reduced N400 amplitude compared to contextually unexpected target words that were unrelated to the events (Experiment 1). In Experiment 2, a similar but reduced effect was observed. These findings support the notion that during discourse reading event simulation and simple word associations jointly contribute to language comprehension by activating words that are beyond contextually congruent sentence continuations.
  • Hintz, F., Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (2020). Visual context constrains language-mediated anticipatory eye movements. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73(3), 458-467. doi:10.1177/1747021819881615.

    Abstract

    Contemporary accounts of anticipatory language processing assume that individuals predict upcoming information at multiple levels of representation. Research investigating language-mediated anticipatory eye gaze typically assumes that linguistic input restricts the domain of subsequent reference (visual target objects). Here, we explored the converse case: Can visual input restrict the dynamics of anticipatory language processing? To this end, we recorded participants’ eye movements as they listened to sentences in which an object was predictable based on the verb’s selectional restrictions (“The man peels a banana”). While listening, participants looked at different types of displays: The target object (banana) was either present or it was absent. On target-absent trials, the displays featured objects that had a similar visual shape as the target object (canoe) or objects that were semantically related to the concepts invoked by the target (monkey). Each trial was presented in a long preview version, where participants saw the displays for approximately 1.78 seconds before the verb was heard (pre-verb condition), and a short preview version, where participants saw the display approximately 1 second after the verb had been heard (post-verb condition), 750 ms prior to the spoken target onset. Participants anticipated the target objects in both conditions. Importantly, robust evidence for predictive looks to objects related to the (absent) target objects in visual shape and semantics was found in the post-verb but not in the pre-verb condition. These results suggest that visual information can restrict language-mediated anticipatory gaze and delineate theoretical accounts of predictive processing in the visual world.

    Additional information

    Supplemental Material
  • Huettig, F., Guerra, E., & Helo, A. (2020). Towards understanding the task dependency of embodied language processing: The influence of colour during language-vision interactions. Journal of Cognition, 3(1): 41. doi:10.5334/joc.135.

    Abstract

    A main challenge for theories of embodied cognition is to understand the task dependency of embodied language processing. One possibility is that perceptual representations (e.g., typical colour of objects mentioned in spoken sentences) are not activated routinely but the influence of perceptual representation emerges only when context strongly supports their involvement in language. To explore this question, we tested the effects of colour representations during language processing in three visual- world eye-tracking experiments. On critical trials, participants listened to sentence- embedded words associated with a prototypical colour (e.g., ‘...spinach...’) while they inspected a visual display with four printed words (Experiment 1), coloured or greyscale line drawings (Experiment 2) and a ‘blank screen’ after a preview of coloured or greyscale line drawings (Experiment 3). Visual context always presented a word/object (e.g., frog) associated with the same prototypical colour (e.g. green) as the spoken target word and three distractors. When hearing spinach participants did not prefer the written word frog compared to other distractor words (Experiment 1). In Experiment 2, colour competitors attracted more overt attention compared to average distractors, but only for the coloured condition and not for greyscale trials. Finally, when the display was removed at the onset of the sentence, and in contrast to the previous blank-screen experiments with semantic competitors, there was no evidence of colour competition in the eye-tracking record (Experiment 3). These results fit best with the notion that the main role of perceptual representations in language processing is to contextualize language in the immediate environment.

    Additional information

    Data files and script
  • Iacozza, S., Meyer, A. S., & Lev-Ari, S. (2020). How in-group bias influences the level of detail of speaker-specific information encoded in novel lexical representations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 46(5), 894-906. doi:10.1037/xlm0000765.

    Abstract

    An important issue in theories of word learning is how abstract or context-specific representations of novel words are. One aspect of this broad issue is how well learners maintain information about the source of novel words. We investigated whether listeners’ source memory was better for words learned from members of their in-group (students of their own university) than it is for words learned from members of an out-group (students from another institution). In the first session, participants saw 6 faces and learned which of the depicted students attended either their own or a different university. In the second session, they learned competing labels (e.g., citrus-peller and citrus-schiller; in English, lemon peeler and lemon stripper) for novel gadgets, produced by the in-group and out-group speakers. Participants were then tested for source memory of these labels and for the strength of their in-group bias, that is, for how much they preferentially process in-group over out-group information. Analyses of source memory accuracy demonstrated an interaction between speaker group membership status and participants’ in-group bias: Stronger in-group bias was associated with less accurate source memory for out-group labels than in-group labels. These results add to the growing body of evidence on the importance of social variables for adult word learning.
  • Iacozza, S. (2020). Exploring social biases in language processing. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Jongman, S. R., Roelofs, A., & Lewis, A. G. (2020). Attention for speaking: Prestimulus motor-cortical alpha power predicts picture naming latencies. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 32(5), 747-761. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01513.

    Abstract

    There is a range of variability in the speed with which a single speaker will produce the same word from one instance to another. Individual differences studies have shown that the speed of production and the ability to maintain attention are related. This study investigated whether fluctuations in production latencies can be explained by spontaneous fluctuations in speakers' attention just prior to initiating speech planning. A relationship between individuals' incidental attentional state and response performance is well attested in visual perception, with lower prestimulus alpha power associated with faster manual responses. Alpha is thought to have an inhibitory function: Low alpha power suggests less inhibition of a specific brain region, whereas high alpha power suggests more inhibition. Does the same relationship hold for cognitively demanding tasks such as word production? In this study, participants named pictures while EEG was recorded, with alpha power taken to index an individual's momentary attentional state. Participants' level of alpha power just prior to picture presentation and just prior to speech onset predicted subsequent naming latencies. Specifically, higher alpha power in the motor system resulted in faster speech initiation. Our results suggest that one index of a lapse of attention during speaking is reduced inhibition of motor-cortical regions: Decreased motor-cortical alpha power indicates reduced inhibition of this area while early stages of production planning unfold, which leads to increased interference from motor-cortical signals and longer naming latencies. This study shows that the language production system is not impermeable to the influence of attention.
  • Jongman, S. R., Piai, V., & Meyer, A. S. (2020). Planning for language production: The electrophysiological signature of attention to the cue to speak. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 35(7), 915-932. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1690153.

    Abstract

    In conversation, speech planning can overlap with listening to the interlocutor. It has been postulated that once there is enough information to formulate a response, planning is initiated and the response is maintained in working memory. Concurrently, the auditory input is monitored for the turn end such that responses can be launched promptly. In three EEG experiments, we aimed to identify the neural signature of phonological planning and monitoring by comparing delayed responding to not responding (reading aloud, repetition and lexical decision). These comparisons consistently resulted in a sustained positivity and beta power reduction over posterior regions. We argue that these effects reflect attention to the sequence end. Phonological planning and maintenance were not detected in the neural signature even though it is highly likely these were taking place. This suggests that EEG must be used cautiously to identify response planning when the neural signal is overridden by attention effects
  • Kaufeld, G., Naumann, W., Meyer, A. S., Bosker, H. R., & Martin, A. E. (2020). Contextual speech rate influences morphosyntactic prediction and integration. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 35(7), 933-948. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1701691.

    Abstract

    Understanding spoken language requires the integration and weighting of multiple cues, and may call on cue integration mechanisms that have been studied in other areas of perception. In the current study, we used eye-tracking (visual-world paradigm) to examine how contextual speech rate (a lower-level, perceptual cue) and morphosyntactic knowledge (a higher-level, linguistic cue) are iteratively combined and integrated. Results indicate that participants used contextual rate information immediately, which we interpret as evidence of perceptual inference and the generation of predictions about upcoming morphosyntactic information. Additionally, we observed that early rate effects remained active in the presence of later conflicting lexical information. This result demonstrates that (1) contextual speech rate functions as a cue to morphosyntactic inferences, even in the presence of subsequent disambiguating information; and (2) listeners iteratively use multiple sources of information to draw inferences and generate predictions during speech comprehension. We discuss the implication of these demonstrations for theories of language processing
  • Kaufeld, G., Ravenschlag, A., Meyer, A. S., Martin, A. E., & Bosker, H. R. (2020). Knowledge-based and signal-based cues are weighted flexibly during spoken language comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 46(3), 549-562. doi:10.1037/xlm0000744.

    Abstract

    During spoken language comprehension, listeners make use of both knowledge-based and signal-based sources of information, but little is known about how cues from these distinct levels of representational hierarchy are weighted and integrated online. In an eye-tracking experiment using the visual world paradigm, we investigated the flexible weighting and integration of morphosyntactic gender marking (a knowledge-based cue) and contextual speech rate (a signal-based cue). We observed that participants used the morphosyntactic cue immediately to make predictions about upcoming referents, even in the presence of uncertainty about the cue’s reliability. Moreover, we found speech rate normalization effects in participants’ gaze patterns even in the presence of preceding morphosyntactic information. These results demonstrate that cues are weighted and integrated flexibly online, rather than adhering to a strict hierarchy. We further found rate normalization effects in the looking behavior of participants who showed a strong behavioral preference for the morphosyntactic gender cue. This indicates that rate normalization effects are robust and potentially automatic. We discuss these results in light of theories of cue integration and the two-stage model of acoustic context effects
  • Kaufeld, G., Bosker, H. R., Ten Oever, S., Alday, P. M., Meyer, A. S., & Martin, A. E. (2020). Linguistic structure and meaning organize neural oscillations into a content-specific hierarchy. Journal of Neuroscience, 49(2), 9467-9475. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0302-20.2020.

    Abstract

    Neural oscillations track linguistic information during speech comprehension (e.g., Ding et al., 2016; Keitel et al., 2018), and are known to be modulated by acoustic landmarks and speech intelligibility (e.g., Doelling et al., 2014; Zoefel & VanRullen, 2015). However, studies investigating linguistic tracking have either relied on non-naturalistic isochronous stimuli or failed to fully control for prosody. Therefore, it is still unclear whether low frequency activity tracks linguistic structure during natural speech, where linguistic structure does not follow such a palpable temporal pattern. Here, we measured electroencephalography (EEG) and manipulated the presence of semantic and syntactic information apart from the timescale of their occurrence, while carefully controlling for the acoustic-prosodic and lexical-semantic information in the signal. EEG was recorded while 29 adult native speakers (22 women, 7 men) listened to naturally-spoken Dutch sentences, jabberwocky controls with morphemes and sentential prosody, word lists with lexical content but no phrase structure, and backwards acoustically-matched controls. Mutual information (MI) analysis revealed sensitivity to linguistic content: MI was highest for sentences at the phrasal (0.8-1.1 Hz) and lexical timescale (1.9-2.8 Hz), suggesting that the delta-band is modulated by lexically-driven combinatorial processing beyond prosody, and that linguistic content (i.e., structure and meaning) organizes neural oscillations beyond the timescale and rhythmicity of the stimulus. This pattern is consistent with neurophysiologically inspired models of language comprehension (Martin, 2016, 2020; Martin & Doumas, 2017) where oscillations encode endogenously generated linguistic content over and above exogenous or stimulus-driven timing and rhythm information.
  • Kim, N., Brehm, L., Sturt, P., & Yoshida, M. (2020). How long can you hold the filler: Maintenance and retrieval. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 35(1), 17-42. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1626456.

    Abstract

    This study attempts to reveal the mechanisms behind the online formation of Wh-Filler-Gap Dependencies (WhFGD). Specifically, we aim to uncover the way in which maintenance and retrieval work in WhFGD processing, by paying special attention to the information that is retrieved when the gap is recognized. We use the agreement attraction phenomenon (Wagers, M. W., Lau, E. F., & Phillips, C. (2009). Agreement attraction in comprehension: Representations and processes. Journal of Memory and Language, 61(2), 206-237) as a probe. The first and second experiments examined the type of information that is maintained and how maintenance is motivated, investigating the retrieved information at the gap for reactivated fillers and definite NPs. The third experiment examined the role of the retrieval, comparing reactivated and active fillers. We contend that the information being accessed reflects the extent to which the filler is maintained, where the reader is able to access fine-grained information including category information as well as a representation of both the head and the modifier at the verb.

    Additional information

    Supplemental material
  • Knudsen, B., Creemers, A., & Meyer, A. S. (2020). Forgotten little words: How backchannels and particles may facilitate speech planning in conversation? Frontiers in Psychology, 11: 593671. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.593671.

    Abstract

    In everyday conversation, turns often follow each other immediately or overlap in time. It has been proposed that speakers achieve this tight temporal coordination between their turns by engaging in linguistic dual-tasking, i.e., by beginning to plan their utterance during the preceding turn. This raises the question of how speakers manage to co-ordinate speech planning and listening with each other. Experimental work addressing this issue has mostly concerned the capacity demands and interference arising when speakers retrieve some content words while listening to others. However, many contributions to conversations are not content words, but backchannels, such as “hm”. Backchannels do not provide much conceptual content and are therefore easy to plan and respond to. To estimate how much they might facilitate speech planning in conversation, we determined their frequency in a Dutch and a German corpus of conversational speech. We found that 19% of the contributions in the Dutch corpus, and 16% of contributions in the German corpus were backchannels. In addition, many turns began with fillers or particles, most often translation equivalents of “yes” or “no,” which are likewise easy to plan.We proposed that to generate comprehensive models of using language in conversation psycholinguists should study not only the generation and processing of content words, as is commonly done, but also consider backchannels, fillers, and particles.
  • Kösem, A., Bosker, H. R., Jensen, O., Hagoort, P., & Riecke, L. (2020). Biasing the perception of spoken words with transcranial alternating current stimulation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 32(8), 1428-1437. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01579.

    Abstract

    Recent neuroimaging evidence suggests that the frequency of entrained oscillations in auditory cortices influences the perceived duration of speech segments, impacting word perception (Kösem et al. 2018). We further tested the causal influence of neural entrainment frequency during speech processing, by manipulating entrainment with continuous transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) at distinct oscillatory frequencies (3 Hz and 5.5 Hz) above the auditory cortices. Dutch participants listened to speech and were asked to report their percept of a target Dutch word, which contained a vowel with an ambiguous duration. Target words were presented either in isolation (first experiment) or at the end of spoken sentences (second experiment). We predicted that the tACS frequency would influence neural entrainment and therewith how speech is perceptually sampled, leading to a perceptual over- or underestimation of the vowel’s duration. Whereas results from Experiment 1 did not confirm this prediction, results from experiment 2 suggested a small effect of tACS frequency on target word perception: Faster tACS lead to more long-vowel word percepts, in line with the previous neuroimaging findings. Importantly, the difference in word perception induced by the different tACS frequencies was significantly larger in experiment 1 vs. experiment 2, suggesting that the impact of tACS is dependent on the sensory context. tACS may have a stronger effect on spoken word perception when the words are presented in continuous speech as compared to when they are isolated, potentially because prior (stimulus-induced) entrainment of brain oscillations might be a prerequisite for tACS to be effective.
  • Lei, L., Raviv, L., & Alday, P. M. (2020). Using spatial visualizations and real-world social networks to understand language evolution and change. In A. Ravignani, C. Barbieri, M. Flaherty, Y. Jadoul, E. Lattenkamp, H. Little, M. Martins, K. Mudd, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference (Evolang13) (pp. 252-254). Nijmegen: The Evolution of Language Conferences.
  • Lev-Ari, S., & Sebanz, N. (2020). Interacting with multiple partners improves communication skills. Cognitive Science, 44(4): e12836. doi:10.1111/cogs.12836.

    Abstract

    Successful communication is important for both society and people’s personal life. Here we show that people can improve their communication skills by interacting with multiple others, and that this improvement seems to come about by a greater tendency to take the addressee’s perspective when there are multiple partners. In Experiment 1, during a training phase, participants described figures to a new partner in each round or to the same partner in all rounds. Then all participants interacted with a new partner and their recordings from that round were presented to naïve listeners. Participants who had interacted with multiple partners during training were better understood. This occurred despite the fact that the partners had not provided the participants with any input other than feedback on comprehension during the interaction. In Experiment 2, participants were asked to provide descriptions to a different future participant in each round or to the same future participant in all rounds. Next they performed a surprise memory test designed to tap memory for global details, in line with the addressee’s perspective. Those who had provided descriptions for multiple future participants performed better. These results indicate that people can improve their communication skills by interacting with multiple people, and that this advantage might be due to a greater tendency to take the addressee’s perspective in such cases. Our findings thus show how the social environment can influence our communication skills by shaping our own behavior during interaction in a manner that promotes the development of our communication skills.
  • Martin, A. E. (2020). A compositional neural architecture for language. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 32(8), 1407-1427. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01552.

    Abstract

    Hierarchical structure and compositionality imbue human language with unparalleled expressive power and set it apart from other perception–action systems. However, neither formal nor neurobiological models account for how these defining computational properties might arise in a physiological system. I attempt to reconcile hierarchy and compositionality with principles from cell assembly computation in neuroscience; the result is an emerging theory of how the brain could convert distributed perceptual representations into hierarchical structures across multiple timescales while representing interpretable incremental stages of (de) compositional meaning. The model's architecture—a multidimensional coordinate system based on neurophysiological models of sensory processing—proposes that a manifold of neural trajectories encodes sensory, motor, and abstract linguistic states. Gain modulation, including inhibition, tunes the path in the manifold in accordance with behavior and is how latent structure is inferred. As a consequence, predictive information about upcoming sensory input during production and comprehension is available without a separate operation. The proposed processing mechanism is synthesized from current models of neural entrainment to speech, concepts from systems neuroscience and category theory, and a symbolic-connectionist computational model that uses time and rhythm to structure information. I build on evidence from cognitive neuroscience and computational modeling that suggests a formal and mechanistic alignment between structure building and neural oscillations and moves toward unifying basic insights from linguistics and psycholinguistics with the currency of neural computation.
  • Maslowski, M., Meyer, A. S., & Bosker, H. R. (2020). Eye-tracking the time course of distal and global speech rate effects. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 46(10), 1148-1163. doi:10.1037/xhp0000838.

    Abstract

    To comprehend speech sounds, listeners tune in to speech rate information in the proximal (immediately adjacent), distal (non-adjacent), and global context (further removed preceding and following sentences). Effects of global contextual speech rate cues on speech perception have been shown to follow constraints not found for proximal and distal speech rate. Therefore, listeners may process such global cues at distinct time points during word recognition. We conducted a printed-word eye-tracking experiment to compare the time courses of distal and global rate effects. Results indicated that the distal rate effect emerged immediately after target sound presentation, in line with a general-auditory account. The global rate effect, however, arose more than 200 ms later than the distal rate effect, indicating that distal and global context effects involve distinct processing mechanisms. Results are interpreted in a two-stage model of acoustic context effects. This model posits that distal context effects involve very early perceptual processes, while global context effects arise at a later stage, involving cognitive adjustments conditioned by higher-level information.
  • Meyer, L., Sun, Y., & Martin, A. E. (2020). Synchronous, but not entrained: Exogenous and endogenous cortical rhythms of speech and language processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 35(9), 1089-1099. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1693050.

    Abstract

    Research on speech processing is often focused on a phenomenon termed “entrainment”, whereby the cortex shadows rhythmic acoustic information with oscillatory activity. Entrainment has been observed to a range of rhythms present in speech; in addition, synchronicity with abstract information (e.g. syntactic structures) has been observed. Entrainment accounts face two challenges: First, speech is not exactly rhythmic; second, synchronicity with representations that lack a clear acoustic counterpart has been described. We propose that apparent entrainment does not always result from acoustic information. Rather, internal rhythms may have functionalities in the generation of abstract representations and predictions. While acoustics may often provide punctate opportunities for entrainment, internal rhythms may also live a life of their own to infer and predict information, leading to intrinsic synchronicity – not to be counted as entrainment. This possibility may open up new research avenues in the psycho– and neurolinguistic study of language processing and language development.
  • Montero-Melis, G., Isaksson, P., Van Paridon, J., & Ostarek, M. (2020). Does using a foreign language reduce mental imagery? Cognition, 196: 104134. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104134.

    Abstract

    In a recent article, Hayakawa and Keysar (2018) propose that mental imagery is less vivid when evoked in a foreign than in a native language. The authors argue that reduced mental imagery could even account for moral foreign language effects, whereby moral choices become more utilitarian when made in a foreign language. Here we demonstrate that Hayakawa and Keysar's (2018) key results are better explained by reduced language comprehension in a foreign language than by less vivid imagery. We argue that the paradigm used in Hayakawa and Keysar (2018) does not provide a satisfactory test of reduced imagery and we discuss an alternative paradigm based on recent experimental developments.

    Additional information

    Supplementary data and scripts
  • Nieuwland, M. S., Barr, D. J., Bartolozzi, F., Busch-Moreno, S., Darley, E., Donaldson, D. I., Ferguson, H. J., Fu, X., Heyselaar, E., Huettig, F., Husband, E. M., Ito, A., Kazanina, N., Kogan, V., Kohút, Z., Kulakova, E., Mézière, D., Politzer-Ahles, S., Rousselet, G., Rueschemeyer, S.-A. and 3 moreNieuwland, M. S., Barr, D. J., Bartolozzi, F., Busch-Moreno, S., Darley, E., Donaldson, D. I., Ferguson, H. J., Fu, X., Heyselaar, E., Huettig, F., Husband, E. M., Ito, A., Kazanina, N., Kogan, V., Kohút, Z., Kulakova, E., Mézière, D., Politzer-Ahles, S., Rousselet, G., Rueschemeyer, S.-A., Segaert, K., Tuomainen, J., & Von Grebmer Zu Wolfsthurn, S. (2020). Dissociable effects of prediction and integration during language comprehension: Evidence from a large-scale study using brain potentials. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 375: 20180522. doi:10.1098/rstb.2018.0522.

    Abstract

    Composing sentence meaning is easier for predictable words than for unpredictable words. Are predictable words genuinely predicted, or simply more plausible and therefore easier to integrate with sentence context? We addressed this persistent and fundamental question using data from a recent, large-scale (N = 334) replication study, by investigating the effects of word predictability and sentence plausibility on the N400, the brain’s electrophysiological index of semantic processing. A spatiotemporally fine-grained mixed-effects multiple regression analysis revealed overlapping effects of predictability and plausibility on the N400, albeit with distinct spatiotemporal profiles. Our results challenge the view that the predictability-dependent N400 reflects the effects of either prediction or integration, and suggest that semantic facilitation of predictable words arises from a cascade of processes that activate and integrate word meaning with context into a sentence-level meaning.
  • Raviv, L., Meyer, A. S., & Lev-Ari, S. (2020). Network structure and the cultural evolution of linguistic structure: A group communication experiment. In A. Ravignani, C. Barbieri, M. Flaherty, Y. Jadoul, E. Lattenkamp, H. Little, M. Martins, K. Mudd, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference (Evolang13) (pp. 359-361). Nijmegen: The Evolution of Language Conferences.
  • Raviv, L. (2020). Language and society: How social pressures shape grammatical structure. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Raviv, L., Meyer, A. S., & Lev-Ari, S. (2020). The role of social network structure in the emergence of linguistic structure. Cognitive Science, 44(8): e12876. doi:10.1111/cogs.12876.

    Abstract

    Social network structure has been argued to shape the structure of languages, as well as affect the spread of innovations and the formation of conventions in the community. Specifically, theoretical and computational models of language change predict that sparsely connected communities develop more systematic languages, while tightly knit communities can maintain high levels of linguistic complexity and variability. However, the role of social network structure in the cultural evolution of languages has never been tested experimentally. Here, we present results from a behavioral group communication study, in which we examined the formation of new languages created in the lab by micro‐societies that varied in their network structure. We contrasted three types of social networks: fully connected, small‐world, and scale‐free. We examined the artificial languages created by these different networks with respect to their linguistic structure, communicative success, stability, and convergence. Results did not reveal any effect of network structure for any measure, with all languages becoming similarly more systematic, more accurate, more stable, and more shared over time. At the same time, small‐world networks showed the greatest variation in their convergence, stabilization, and emerging structure patterns, indicating that network structure can influence the community's susceptibility to random linguistic changes (i.e., drift).
  • Rodd, J., Bosker, H. R., Ernestus, M., Alday, P. M., Meyer, A. S., & Ten Bosch, L. (2020). Control of speaking rate is achieved by switching between qualitatively distinct cognitive ‘gaits’: Evidence from simulation. Psychological Review, 127(2), 281-304. doi:10.1037/rev0000172.

    Abstract

    That speakers can vary their speaking rate is evident, but how they accomplish this has hardly been studied. Consider this analogy: When walking, speed can be continuously increased, within limits, but to speed up further, humans must run. Are there multiple qualitatively distinct speech “gaits” that resemble walking and running? Or is control achieved by continuous modulation of a single gait? This study investigates these possibilities through simulations of a new connectionist computational model of the cognitive process of speech production, EPONA, that borrows from Dell, Burger, and Svec’s (1997) model. The model has parameters that can be adjusted to fit the temporal characteristics of speech at different speaking rates. We trained the model on a corpus of disyllabic Dutch words produced at different speaking rates. During training, different clusters of parameter values (regimes) were identified for different speaking rates. In a 1-gait system, the regimes used to achieve fast and slow speech are qualitatively similar, but quantitatively different. In a multiple gait system, there is no linear relationship between the parameter settings associated with each gait, resulting in an abrupt shift in parameter values to move from speaking slowly to speaking fast. After training, the model achieved good fits in all three speaking rates. The parameter settings associated with each speaking rate were not linearly related, suggesting the presence of cognitive gaits. Thus, we provide the first computationally explicit account of the ability to modulate the speech production system to achieve different speaking styles.

    Additional information

    Supplemental material
  • Rodd, J. (2020). How speaking fast is like running: Modelling control of speaking rate. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Shao, Z., & Rommers, J. (2020). How a question context aids word production: Evidence from the picture–word interference paradigm. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73(2), 165-173. doi:10.1177/1747021819882911.

    Abstract

    Difficulties in saying the right word at the right time arise at least in part because multiple response candidates are simultaneously activated in the speaker’s mind. The word selection process has been simulated using the picture–word interference task, in which participants name pictures while ignoring a superimposed written distractor word. However, words are usually produced in context, in the service of achieving a communicative goal. Two experiments addressed the questions whether context influences word production, and if so, how. We embedded the picture–word interference task in a dialogue-like setting, in which participants heard a question and named a picture as an answer to the question while ignoring a superimposed distractor word. The conversational context was either constraining or nonconstraining towards the answer. Manipulating the relationship between the picture name and the distractor, we focused on two core processes of word production: retrieval of semantic representations (Experiment 1) and phonological encoding (Experiment 2). The results of both experiments showed that naming reaction times (RTs) were shorter when preceded by constraining contexts as compared with nonconstraining contexts. Critically, constraining contexts decreased the effect of semantically related distractors but not the effect of phonologically related distractors. This suggests that conversational contexts can help speakers with aspects of the meaning of to-be-produced words, but phonological encoding processes still need to be performed as usual.
  • Sjerps, M. J., Decuyper, C., & Meyer, A. S. (2020). Initiation of utterance planning in response to pre-recorded and “live” utterances. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73(3), 357-374. doi:10.1177/1747021819881265.

    Abstract

    In everyday conversation, interlocutors often plan their utterances while listening to their conversational partners, thereby achieving short gaps between their turns. Important issues for current psycholinguistics are how interlocutors distribute their attention between listening and speech planning and how speech planning is timed relative to listening. Laboratory studies addressing these issues have used a variety of paradigms, some of which have involved using recorded speech to which participants responded, whereas others have involved interactions with confederates. This study investigated how this variation in the speech input affected the participants’ timing of speech planning. In Experiment 1, participants responded to utterances produced by a confederate, who sat next to them and looked at the same screen. In Experiment 2, they responded to recorded utterances of the same confederate. Analyses of the participants’ speech, their eye movements, and their performance in a concurrent tapping task showed that, compared with recorded speech, the presence of the confederate increased the processing load for the participants, but did not alter their global sentence planning strategy. These results have implications for the design of psycholinguistic experiments and theories of listening and speaking in dyadic settings.
  • Takashima, A., Konopka, A. E., Meyer, A. S., Hagoort, P., & Weber, K. (2020). Speaking in the brain: The interaction between words and syntax in sentence production. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 32(8), 1466-1483. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01563.

    Abstract

    This neuroimaging study investigated the neural infrastructure of sentence-level language production. We compared brain activation patterns, as measured with BOLD-fMRI, during production of sentences that differed in verb argument structures (intransitives, transitives, ditransitives) and the lexical status of the verb (known verbs or pseudoverbs). The experiment consisted of 30 mini-blocks of six sentences each. Each mini-block started with an example for the type of sentence to be produced in that block. On each trial in the mini-blocks, participants were first given the (pseudo-)verb followed by three geometric shapes to serve as verb arguments in the sentences. Production of sentences with known verbs yielded greater activation compared to sentences with pseudoverbs in the core language network of the left inferior frontal gyrus, the left posterior middle temporalgyrus, and a more posterior middle temporal region extending into the angular gyrus, analogous to effects observed in language comprehension. Increasing the number of verb arguments led to greater activation in an overlapping left posterior middle temporal gyrus/angular gyrus area, particularly for known verbs, as well as in the bilateral precuneus. Thus, producing sentences with more complex structures using existing verbs leads to increased activation in the language network, suggesting some reliance on memory retrieval of stored lexical–syntactic information during sentence production. This study thus provides evidence from sentence-level language production in line with functional models of the language network that have so far been mainly based on single-word production, comprehension, and language processing in aphasia.
  • Terband, H., Rodd, J., & Maas, E. (2020). Testing hypotheses about the underlying deficit of Apraxia of Speech (AOS) through computational neural modelling with the DIVA model. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 22(4), 475-486. doi:10.1080/17549507.2019.1669711.

    Abstract

    Purpose: A recent behavioural experiment featuring a noise masking paradigm suggests that Apraxia of Speech (AOS) reflects a disruption of feedforward control, whereas feedback control is spared and plays a more prominent role in achieving and maintaining segmental contrasts. The present study set out to validate the interpretation of AOS as a possible feedforward impairment using computational neural modelling with the DIVA (Directions Into Velocities of Articulators) model. Method: In a series of computational simulations with the DIVA model featuring a noise-masking paradigm mimicking the behavioural experiment, we investigated the effect of a feedforward, feedback, feedforward + feedback, and an upper motor neuron dysarthria impairment on average vowel spacing and dispersion in the production of six/bVt/speech targets. Result: The simulation results indicate that the output of the model with the simulated feedforward deficit resembled the group findings for the human speakers with AOS best. Conclusion: These results provide support to the interpretation of the human observations, corroborating the notion that AOS can be conceptualised as a deficit in feedforward control.
  • Thompson, B., Raviv, L., & Kirby, S. (2020). Complexity can be maintained in small populations: A model of lexical variability in emerging sign languages. In A. Ravignani, C. Barbieri, M. Flaherty, Y. Jadoul, E. Lattenkamp, H. Little, M. Martins, K. Mudd, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference (Evolang13) (pp. 440-442). Nijmegen: The Evolution of Language Conferences.
  • Van Os, M., De Jong, N. H., & Bosker, H. R. (2020). Fluency in dialogue: Turn‐taking behavior shapes perceived fluency in native and nonnative speech. Language Learning, 70(4), 1183-1217. doi:10.1111/lang.12416.

    Abstract

    Fluency is an important part of research on second language learning, but most research on language proficiency typically has not included oral fluency as part of interaction, even though natural communication usually occurs in conversations. The present study considered aspects of turn-taking behavior as part of the construct of fluency and investigated whether these aspects differentially influence perceived fluency ratings of native and non-native speech. Results from two experiments using acoustically manipulated speech showed that, in native speech, too ‘eager’ (interrupting a question with a fast answer) and too ‘reluctant’ answers (answering slowly after a long turn gap) negatively affected fluency ratings. However, in non-native speech, only too ‘reluctant’ answers led to lower fluency ratings. Thus, we demonstrate that acoustic properties of dialogue are perceived as part of fluency. By adding to our current understanding of dialogue fluency, these lab-based findings carry implications for language teaching and assessment

    Additional information

    data + R analysis script via osf
  • Zormpa, E. (2020). Memory for speaking and listening. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Alday, P. M. (2019). How much baseline correction do we need in ERP research? Extended GLM model can replace baseline correction while lifting its limits. Psychophysiology, 56(12): e13451. doi:10.1111/psyp.13451.

    Abstract

    Baseline correction plays an important role in past and current methodological debates in ERP research (e.g., the Tanner vs. Maess debate in the Journal of Neuroscience Methods), serving as a potential alternative to strong high‐pass filtering. However, the very assumptions that underlie traditional baseline also undermine it, implying a reduction in the signal‐to‐noise ratio. In other words, traditional baseline correction is statistically unnecessary and even undesirable. Including the baseline interval as a predictor in a GLM‐based statistical approach allows the data to determine how much baseline correction is needed, including both full traditional and no baseline correction as special cases. This reduces the amount of variance in the residual error term and thus has the potential to increase statistical power.
  • Alday, P. M. (2019). M/EEG analysis of naturalistic stories: a review from speech to language processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(4), 457-473. doi:10.1080/23273798.2018.1546882.

    Abstract

    M/EEG research using naturally spoken stories as stimuli has focused largely on speech and not language processing. The temporal resolution of M/EEG is a two-edged sword, allowing for the study of the fine acoustic structure of speech, yet easily overwhelmed by the temporal noise of variation in constituent length. Recent theories on the neural encoding of linguistic structure require the temporal resolution of M/EEG, yet suffer from confounds when studied on traditional, heavily controlled stimuli. Recent methodological advances allow for synthesising naturalistic designs and traditional, controlled designs into effective M/EEG research on naturalistic language. In this review, we highlight common threads throughout the at-times distinct research traditions of speech and language processing. We conclude by examining the tradeoffs and successes of three M/EEG studies on fully naturalistic language paradigms and the future directions they suggest.
  • Alday, P. M., & Kretzschmar, F. (2019). Speed-accuracy tradeoffs in brain and behavior: Testing the independence of P300 and N400 related processes in behavioral responses to sentence categorization. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13: 285. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00285.

    Abstract

    Although the N400 was originally discovered in a paradigm designed to elicit a P300 (Kutas and Hillyard, 1980), its relationship with the P300 and how both overlapping event-related potentials (ERPs) determine behavioral profiles is still elusive. Here we conducted an ERP (N = 20) and a multiple-response speed-accuracy tradeoff (SAT) experiment (N = 16) on distinct participant samples using an antonym paradigm (The opposite of black is white/nice/yellow with acceptability judgment). We hypothesized that SAT profiles incorporate processes of task-related decision-making (P300) and stimulus-related expectation violation (N400). We replicated previous ERP results (Roehm et al., 2007): in the correct condition (white), the expected target elicits a P300, while both expectation violations engender an N400 [reduced for related (yellow) vs. unrelated targets (nice)]. Using multivariate Bayesian mixed-effects models, we modeled the P300 and N400 responses simultaneously and found that correlation between residuals and subject-level random effects of each response window was minimal, suggesting that the components are largely independent. For the SAT data, we found that antonyms and unrelated targets had a similar slope (rate of increase in accuracy over time) and an asymptote at ceiling, while related targets showed both a lower slope and a lower asymptote, reaching only approximately 80% accuracy. Using a GLMM-based approach (Davidson and Martin, 2013), we modeled these dynamics using response time and condition as predictors. Replacing the predictor for condition with the averaged P300 and N400 amplitudes from the ERP experiment, we achieved identical model performance. We then examined the piecewise contribution of the P300 and N400 amplitudes with partial effects (see Hohenstein and Kliegl, 2015). Unsurprisingly, the P300 amplitude was the strongest contributor to the SAT-curve in the antonym condition and the N400 was the strongest contributor in the unrelated condition. In brief, this is the first demonstration of how overlapping ERP responses in one sample of participants predict behavioral SAT profiles of another sample. The P300 and N400 reflect two independent but interacting processes and the competition between these processes is reflected differently in behavioral parameters of speed and accuracy.

    Additional information

    Supplementary material
  • Araújo, S., Fernandes, T., & Huettig, F. (2019). Learning to read facilitates retrieval of phonological representations in rapid automatized naming: Evidence from unschooled illiterate, ex-illiterate, and schooled literate adults. Developmental Science, 22(4): e12783. doi:10.1111/desc.12783.

    Abstract

    Rapid automatized naming (RAN) of visual items is a powerful predictor of reading skills. However, the direction and locus of the association between RAN and reading is still largely unclear. Here we investigated whether literacy acquisition directly bolsters RAN efficiency for objects, adopting a strong methodological design, by testing three groups of adults matched in age and socioeconomic variables, who differed only in literacy/schooling: unschooled illiterate and ex-illiterate, and schooled literate adults. To investigate in a fine-grained manner whether and how literacy facilitates lexical retrieval, we orthogonally manipulated the word-form frequency (high vs. low) and phonological neighborhood density (dense vs. spare) of the objects’ names. We observed that literacy experience enhances the automaticity with which visual stimuli (e.g., objects) can be retrieved and named: relative to readers (ex-illiterate and literate), illiterate adults performed worse on RAN. Crucially, the group difference was exacerbated and significant only for those items that were of low frequency and from sparse neighborhoods. These results thus suggest that, regardless of schooling and age at which literacy was acquired, learning to read facilitates the access to and retrieval of phonological representations, especially of difficult lexical items.
  • Bode, S., Feuerriegel, D., Bennett, D., & Alday, P. M. (2019). The Decision Decoding ToolBOX (DDTBOX) -- A Multivariate Pattern Analysis Toolbox for Event-Related Potentials. Neuroinformatics, 17(1), 27-42. doi:10.1007/s12021-018-9375-z.

    Abstract

    In recent years, neuroimaging research in cognitive neuroscience has increasingly used multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) to investigate higher cognitive functions. Here we present DDTBOX, an open-source MVPA toolbox for electroencephalography (EEG) data. DDTBOX runs under MATLAB and is well integrated with the EEGLAB/ERPLAB and Fieldtrip toolboxes (Delorme and Makeig 2004; Lopez-Calderon and Luck 2014; Oostenveld et al. 2011). It trains support vector machines (SVMs) on patterns of event-related potential (ERP) amplitude data, following or preceding an event of interest, for classification or regression of experimental variables. These amplitude patterns can be extracted across space/electrodes (spatial decoding), time (temporal decoding), or both (spatiotemporal decoding). DDTBOX can also extract SVM feature weights, generate empirical chance distributions based on shuffled-labels decoding for group-level statistical testing, provide estimates of the prevalence of decodable information in the population, and perform a variety of corrections for multiple comparisons. It also includes plotting functions for single subject and group results. DDTBOX complements conventional analyses of ERP components, as subtle multivariate patterns can be detected that would be overlooked in standard analyses. It further allows for a more explorative search for information when no ERP component is known to be specifically linked to a cognitive process of interest. In summary, DDTBOX is an easy-to-use and open-source toolbox that allows for characterising the time-course of information related to various perceptual and cognitive processes. It can be applied to data from a large number of experimental paradigms and could therefore be a valuable tool for the neuroimaging community.
  • Bosker, H. R., Van Os, M., Does, R., & Van Bergen, G. (2019). Counting 'uhm's: how tracking the distribution of native and non-native disfluencies influences online language comprehension. Journal of Memory and Language, 106, 189-202. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2019.02.006.

    Abstract

    Disfluencies, like 'uh', have been shown to help listeners anticipate reference to low-frequency words. The associative account of this 'disfluency bias' proposes that listeners learn to associate disfluency with low-frequency referents based on prior exposure to non-arbitrary disfluency distributions (i.e., greater probability of low-frequency words after disfluencies). However, there is limited evidence for listeners actually tracking disfluency distributions online. The present experiments are the first to show that adult listeners, exposed to a typical or more atypical disfluency distribution (i.e., hearing a talker unexpectedly say uh before high-frequency words), flexibly adjust their predictive strategies to the disfluency distribution at hand (e.g., learn to predict high-frequency referents after disfluency). However, when listeners were presented with the same atypical disfluency distribution but produced by a non-native speaker, no adjustment was observed. This suggests pragmatic inferences can modulate distributional learning, revealing the flexibility of, and constraints on, distributional learning in incremental language comprehension.
  • Brehm, L., Jackson, C. N., & Miller, K. L. (2019). Incremental interpretation in the first and second language. In M. Brown, & B. Dailey (Eds.), BUCLD 43: Proceedings of the 43rd annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 109-122). Sommerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.

Share this page