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Bosker, H. R., Quené, H., Sanders, T. J. M., & de Jong, N. H. (2014). Native 'um's elicit prediction of low-frequency referents, but non-native 'um's do not. Journal of Memory and Language, 75, 104-116. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2014.05.004.
AbstractSpeech comprehension involves extensive use of prediction. Linguistic prediction may be guided by the semantics or syntax, but also by the performance characteristics of the speech signal, such as disfluency. Previous studies have shown that listeners, when presented with the filler uh, exhibit a disfluency bias for discourse-new or unknown referents, drawing inferences about the source of the disfluency. The goal of the present study is to study the contrast between native and non-native disfluencies in speech comprehension. Experiment 1 presented listeners with pictures of high-frequency (e.g., a hand) and low-frequency objects (e.g., a sewing machine) and with fluent and disfluent instructions. Listeners were found to anticipate reference to low-frequency objects when encountering disfluency, thus attributing disfluency to speaker trouble in lexical retrieval. Experiment 2 showed that, when participants listened to disfluent non-native speech, no anticipation of low-frequency referents was observed. We conclude that listeners can adapt their predictive strategies to the (non-native) speaker at hand, extending our understanding of the role of speaker identity in speech comprehension.
Bosker, H. R., Quené, H., Sanders, T. J. M., & de Jong, N. H. (2014). The perception of fluency in native and non-native speech. Language Learning, 64, 579-614. doi:10.1111/lang.12067.
AbstractWhere native speakers supposedly are fluent by default, non-native speakers often have to strive hard to achieve a native-like fluency level. However, disfluencies (such as pauses, fillers, repairs, etc.) occur in both native and non-native speech and it is as yet unclear ow luency raters weigh the fluency characteristics of native and non-native speech. Two rating experiments compared the way raters assess the luency of native and non-native speech. The fluency characteristics of native and non- native speech were controlled by using phonetic anipulations in pause (Experiment 1) and speed characteristics (Experiment 2). The results show that the ratings on manipulated native and on-native speech were affected in a similar fashion. This suggests that there is no difference in the way listeners weigh the fluency haracteristics of native and non-native speakers.
Bosker, H. R. (2014). The processing and evaluation of fluency in native and non-native speech. PhD Thesis, Utrecht University, Utrecht.
AbstractDisfluency is a common characteristic of spontaneously produced speech. Disfluencies (e.g., silent pauses, filled pauses [uh’s and uhm’s], corrections, repetitions, etc.) occur in both native and non-native speech. There appears to be an apparent contradiction between claims from the evaluative and cognitive approach to fluency. On the one hand, the evaluative approach shows that non-native disfluencies have a negative effect on listeners’ subjective fluency impressions. On the other hand, the cognitive approach reports beneficial effects of native disfluencies on cognitive processes involved in speech comprehension, such as prediction and attention. This dissertation aims to resolve this apparent contradiction by combining the evaluative and cognitive approach. The reported studies target both the evaluation (Chapters 2 and 3) and the processing of fluency (Chapters 4 and 5) in native and non-native speech. Thus, it provides an integrative account of native and non-native fluency perception, informative to both language testing practice and cognitive psycholinguists. The proposed account of fluency perception testifies to the notion that speech performance matters: communication through spoken language does not only depend on what is said, but also on how it is said and by whom.
Chen, A., Chen, A., Kager, R., & Wong, P. (2014). Rises and falls in Dutch and Mandarin Chinese. In C. Gussenhoven, Y. Chen, & D. Dediu (
Eds.), Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Language (pp. 83-86).
AbstractDespite of the different functions of pitch in tone and nontone languages, rises and falls are common pitch patterns across different languages. In the current study, we ask what is the language specific phonetic realization of rises and falls. Chinese and Dutch speakers participated in a production experiment. We used contexts composed for conveying specific communicative purposes to elicit rises and falls. We measured both tonal alignment and tonal scaling for both patterns. For the alignment measurements, we found language specific patterns for the rises, but for falls. For rises, both peak and valley were aligned later among Chinese speakers compared to Dutch speakers. For all the scaling measurements (maximum pitch, minimum pitch, and pitch range), no language specific patterns were found for either the rises or the falls
Chen, A. (2014). Production-comprehension (A)Symmetry: Individual differences in the acquisition of prosodic focus-marking. In N. Campbell, D. Gibbon, & D. Hirst (
Eds.), Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2014 (pp. 423-427).
AbstractPrevious work based on different groups of children has shown that four- to five-year-old children are similar to adults in both producing and comprehending the focus-toaccentuation mapping in Dutch, contra the alleged productionprecedes- comprehension asymmetry in earlier studies. In the current study, we addressed the question of whether there are individual differences in the production-comprehension (a)symmetricity. To this end, we examined the use of prosody in focus marking in production and the processing of focusrelated prosody in online language comprehension in the same group of 4- to 5-year-olds. We have found that the relationship between comprehension and production can be rather diverse at an individual level. This result suggests some degree of independence in learning to use prosody to mark focus in production and learning to process focus-related prosodic information in online language comprehension, and implies influences of other linguistic and non-linguistic factors on the production-comprehension (a)symmetricity
Chu, M., Meyer, A. S., Foulkes, L., & Kita, S. (2014). Individual differences in frequency and saliency of speech-accompanying gestures: The role of cognitive abilities and empathy. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143, 694-709. doi:10.1037/a0033861.
AbstractThe present study concerns individual differences in gesture production. We used correlational and multiple regression analyses to examine the relationship between individuals’ cognitive abilities and empathy levels and their gesture frequency and saliency. We chose predictor variables according to experimental evidence of the functions of gesture in speech production and communication. We examined 3 types of gestures: representational gestures, conduit gestures, and palm-revealing gestures. Higher frequency of representational gestures was related to poorer visual and spatial working memory, spatial transformation ability, and conceptualization ability; higher frequency of conduit gestures was related to poorer visual working memory, conceptualization ability, and higher levels of empathy; and higher frequency of palm-revealing gestures was related to higher levels of empathy. The saliency of all gestures was positively related to level of empathy. These results demonstrate that cognitive abilities and empathy levels are related to individual differences in gesture frequency and saliency
Evans, S., McGettigan, C., Agnew, Z., Rosen, S., Cesar, L., Boebinger, D., Ostarek, M., Chen, S. H., Richards, A., Meekins, S., & Scott, S. K. (2014). The neural basis of informational and energetic masking effects in the perception and production of speech [abstract]. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 136(4), 2243. doi:10.1121/1.4900096.
AbstractWhen we have spoken conversations, it is usually in the context of competing sounds within our environment. Speech can be masked by many different kinds of sounds, for example, machinery noise and the speech of others, and these different sounds place differing demands on cognitive resources. In this talk, I will present data from a series of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies in which the informational properties of background sounds have been manipulated to make them more or less similar to speech. I will demonstrate the neural effects associated with speaking over and listening to these sounds, and demonstrate how in perception these effects are modulated by the age of the listener. The results will be interpreted within a framework of auditory processing developed from primate neurophysiology and human functional imaging work (Rauschecker and Scott 2009).
Ganushchak, L., Konopka, A. E., & Chen, Y. (2014). What the eyes say about planning of focused referents during sentence formulation: a cross-linguistic investigation. Frontiers in Psychology, 5: 1124. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01124.
AbstractThis study investigated how sentence formulation is influenced by a preceding discourse context. In two eye-tracking experiments, participants described pictures of two-character transitive events in Dutch (Experiment 1) and Chinese (Experiment 2). Focus was manipulated by presenting questions before each picture. In the Neutral condition, participants first heard ‘What is happening here?’ In the Object or Subject Focus conditions, the questions asked about the Object or Subject character (What is the policeman stopping? Who is stopping the truck?). The target response was the same in all conditions (The policeman is stopping the truck). In both experiments, sentence formulation in the Neutral condition showed the expected pattern of speakers fixating the subject character (policeman) before the object character (truck). In contrast, in the focus conditions speakers rapidly directed their gaze preferentially only to the character they needed to encode to answer the question (the new, or focused, character). The timing of gaze shifts to the new character varied by language group (Dutch vs. Chinese): shifts to the new character occurred earlier when information in the question can be repeated in the response with the same syntactic structure (in Chinese but not in Dutch). The results show that discourse affects the timecourse of linguistic formulation in simple sentences and that these effects can be modulated by language-specific linguistic structures such as parallels in the syntax of questions and declarative sentences.
Ganushchak, L. Y., & Acheson, D. J. (
Eds.). (2014). What's to be learned from speaking aloud? - Advances in the neurophysiological measurement of overt language production. [Research topic] [Special Issue]. Frontiers in Language Sciences. Retrieved from http://www.frontiersin.org/Language_Sciences/researchtopics/What_s_to_be_Learned_from_Spea/1671.
AbstractResearchers have long avoided neurophysiological experiments of overt speech production due to the suspicion that artifacts caused by muscle activity may lead to a bad signal-to-noise ratio in the measurements. However, the need to actually produce speech may influence earlier processing and qualitatively change speech production processes and what we can infer from neurophysiological measures thereof. Recently, however, overt speech has been successfully investigated using EEG, MEG, and fMRI. The aim of this Research Topic is to draw together recent research on the neurophysiological basis of language production, with the aim of developing and extending theoretical accounts of the language production process. In this Research Topic of Frontiers in Language Sciences, we invite both experimental and review papers, as well as those about the latest methods in acquisition and analysis of overt language production data. All aspects of language production are welcome: i.e., from conceptualization to articulation during native as well as multilingual language production. Focus should be placed on using the neurophysiological data to inform questions about the processing stages of language production. In addition, emphasis should be placed on the extent to which the identified components of the electrophysiological signal (e.g., ERP/ERF, neuronal oscillations, etc.), brain areas or networks are related to language comprehension and other cognitive domains. By bringing together electrophysiological and neuroimaging evidence on language production mechanisms, a more complete picture of the locus of language production processes and their temporal and neurophysiological signatures will emerge.
Guerra, E., Huettig, F., & Knoeferle, P. (2014). Assessing the time course of the influence of featural, distributional and spatial representations during reading. In P. Bello, M. Guarini, M. McShane, & B. Scassellati (
Eds.), Proceedings of the 36th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2014) (pp. 2309-2314). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. Retrieved from https://mindmodeling.org/cogsci2014/papers/402/.
AbstractWhat does semantic similarity between two concepts mean? How could we measure it? The way in which semantic similarity is calculated might differ depending on the theoretical notion of semantic representation. In an eye-tracking reading experiment, we investigated whether two widely used semantic similarity measures (based on featural or distributional representations) have distinctive effects on sentence reading times. In other words, we explored whether these measures of semantic similarity differ qualitatively. In addition, we examined whether visually perceived spatial distance interacts with either or both of these measures. Our results showed that the effect of featural and distributional representations on reading times can differ both in direction and in its time course. Moreover, both featural and distributional information interacted with spatial distance, yet in different sentence regions and reading measures. We conclude that featural and distributional representations are distinct components of semantic representation.
Guerra, E., & Knoeferle, P. (2014). Spatial distance effects on incremental semantic interpretation of abstract sentences: Evidence from eye tracking. Cognition, 133(3), 535-552. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2014.07.007.
AbstractA large body of evidence has shown that visual context information can rapidly modulate language comprehension for concrete sentences and when it is mediated by a referential or a lexical-semantic link. What has not yet been examined is whether visual context can also modulate comprehension of abstract sentences incrementally when it is neither referenced by, nor lexically associated with, the sentence. Three eye-tracking reading experiments examined the effects of spatial distance between words (Experiment 1) and objects (Experiment 2 and 3) on participants’ reading times for sentences that convey similarity or difference between two abstract nouns (e.g., ‘Peace and war are certainly different...’). Before reading the sentence, participants inspected a visual context with two playing cards that moved either far apart or close together. In Experiment 1, the cards turned and showed the first two nouns of the sentence (e.g., ‘peace’, ‘war’). In Experiments 2 and 3, they turned but remained blank. Participants’ reading times at the adjective (Experiment 1: first-pass reading time; Experiment 2: total times) and at the second noun phrase (Experiment 3: first-pass times) were faster for sentences that expressed similarity when the preceding words/objects were close together (vs. far apart) and for sentences that expressed dissimilarity when the preceding words/objects were far apart (vs. close together). Thus, spatial distance between words or entirely unrelated objects can rapidly and incrementally modulate the semantic interpretation of abstract sentences.
Guerra, E., & Knoeferle, P. (2014). Spatial distance modulates reading times for sentences about social relations: evidence from eye tracking. In P. Bello, M. Guarini, M. McShane, & B. Scassellati (
Eds.), Proceedings of the 36th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2014) (pp. 2315-2320). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. Retrieved from https://mindmodeling.org/cogsci2014/papers/403/.
AbstractRecent evidence from eye tracking during reading showed that non-referential spatial distance presented in a visual context can modulate semantic interpretation of similarity relations rapidly and incrementally. In two eye-tracking reading experiments we extended these findings in two important ways; first, we examined whether other semantic domains (social relations) could also be rapidly influenced by spatial distance during sentence comprehension. Second, we aimed to further specify how abstract language is co-indexed with spatial information by varying the syntactic structure of sentences between experiments. Spatial distance rapidly modulated reading times as a function of the social relation expressed by a sentence. Moreover, our findings suggest that abstract language can be co-indexed as soon as critical information becomes available for the reader.
Huettig, F., & Mishra, R. K. (2014). How literacy acquisition affects the illiterate mind - A critical examination of theories and evidence. Language and Linguistics Compass, 8(10), 401-427. doi:10.1111/lnc3.12092.
AbstractAt present, more than one-fifth of humanity is unable to read and write. We critically examine experimental evidence and theories of how (il)literacy affects the human mind. In our discussion we show that literacy has significant cognitive consequences that go beyond the processing of written words and sentences. Thus, cultural inventions such as reading shape general cognitive processing in non-trivial ways. We suggest that this has important implications for educational policy and guidance as well as research into cognitive processing and brain functioning.
Huettig, F. (2014). Role of prediction in language learning. In P. J. Brooks, & V. Kempe (
Eds.), Encyclopedia of language development (pp. 479-481). London: Sage Publications.
Janse, E., & Jesse, A. (2014). Working memory affects older adults’ use of context in spoken-word recognition. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67, 1842-1862. doi:10.1080/17470218.2013.879391.
AbstractMany older listeners report difficulties in understanding speech in noisy situations. Working memory and other cognitive skills may modulate, however, older listeners’ ability to use context information to alleviate the effects of noise on spoken-word recognition. In the present study, we investigated whether working memory predicts older adults’ ability to immediately use context information in the recognition of words embedded in sentences, presented in different listening conditions. In a phoneme-monitoring task, older adults were asked to detect as fast and as accurately as possible target phonemes in sentences spoken by a target speaker. Target speech was presented without noise, with fluctuating speech-shaped noise, or with competing speech from a single distractor speaker. The gradient measure of contextual probability (derived from a separate offline rating study) mainly affected the speed of recognition, with only a marginal effect on detection accuracy. Contextual facilitation was modulated by older listeners’ working memory and age across listening conditions. Working memory and age, as well as hearing loss, were also the most consistent predictors of overall listening performance. Older listeners’ immediate benefit from context in spoken-word recognition thus relates to their ability to keep and update a semantic representation of the sentence content in working memory.
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Konopka, A. E., & Brown-Schmidt, S. (2014). Message encoding. In V. Ferreira, M. Goldrick, & M. Miozzo (
Eds.), The Oxford handbook of language production (pp. 3-20). New York: Oxford University Press.
Konopka, A. E., & Meyer, A. S. (2014). Priming sentence planning. Cognitive Psychology, 73, 1-40. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2014.04.001.
AbstractSentence production requires mapping preverbal messages onto linguistic structures. Because sentences are normally built incrementally, the information encoded in a sentence-initial increment is critical for explaining how the mapping process starts and for predicting its timecourse. Two experiments tested whether and when speakers prioritize encoding of different types of information at the outset of formulation by comparing production of descriptions of transitive events (e.g., A dog is chasing the mailman) that differed on two dimensions: the ease of naming individual characters and the ease of apprehending the event gist (i.e., encoding the relational structure of the event). To additionally manipulate ease of encoding, speakers described the target events after receiving lexical primes (facilitating naming; Experiment 1) or structural primes (facilitating generation of a linguistic structure; Experiment 2). Both properties of the pictured events and both types of primes influenced the form of target descriptions and the timecourse of formulation: character-specific variables increased the probability of speakers encoding one character with priority at the outset of formulation, while the ease of encoding event gist and of generating a syntactic structure increased the likelihood of early encoding of information about both characters. The results show that formulation is flexible and highlight some of the conditions under which speakers might employ different planning strategies.
Lev-Ari, S., & Peperkamp, S. (2014). An experimental study of the role of social factors in sound change. Laboratory Phonology, 5(3), 379-401. doi:10.1515/lp-2014-0013.
AbstractThere is great variation in whether foreign sounds in loanwords are adapted or retained. Importantly, the retention of foreign sounds can lead to a sound change in the language. We propose that social factors influence the likelihood of loanword sound adaptation, and use this case to introduce a novel experimental paradigm for studying language change that captures the role of social factors. Specifically, we show that the relative prestige of the donor language in the loanword's semantic domain influences the rate of sound adaptation. We further show that speakers adapt to the performance of their ‘community’, and that this adaptation leads to the creation of a norm. The results of this study are thus the first to show an effect of social factors on loanword sound adaptation in an experimental setting. Moreover, they open up a new domain of experimentally studying language change in a manner that integrates social factors
Lev-Ari, S., & Peperkamp, S. (2014). Do people converge to the linguistic patterns of non-reliable speakers? Perceptual learning from non-native speakers. In S. Fuchs, M. Grice, A. Hermes, L. Lancia, & D. Mücke (
Eds.), Proceedings of the 10th International Seminar on Speech Production (ISSP) (pp. 261-264).
AbstractPeople's language is shaped by the input from the environment. The environment, however, offers a range of linguistic inputs that differ in their reliability. We test whether listeners accordingly weigh input from sources that differ in reliability differently. Using a perceptual learning paradigm, we show that listeners adjust their representations according to linguistic input provided by native but not by non-native speakers. This is despite the fact that listeners are able to learn the characteristics of the speech of both speakers. These results provide evidence for a disassociation between adaptation to the characteristic of specific speakers and adjustment of linguistic representations in general based on these learned characteristics. This study also has implications for theories of language change. In particular, it cast doubts on the hypothesis that a large proportion of non-native speakers in a community can bring about linguistic changes
Lev-Ari, S., & Peperkamp, S. (2014). The influence of inhibitory skill on phonological representations in production and perception. Journal of Phonetics, 47, 36-46. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2014.09.001.
AbstractInhibition is known to play a role in speech perception and has been hypothesized to likewise influence speech production. In this paper we test whether individual differences in inhibitory skill can lead to individual differences in phonological representations in perception and production. We further examine whether the type of inhibition that influences phonological representation is domain-specific or domain-general. Native French speakers read aloud sentences with words containing a voiced stop that either have a voicing neighbor (target) or not (control). The duration of pre-voicing was measured. Participants similarly performed a lexical decision task on versions of these target and matched control words whose pre-voicing duration was manipulated. Lastly, participants performed linguistic and non-linguistic inhibition tasks. Results indicate that the lower speakers' linguistic or non-linguistic inhibition is, the easier it is for them to recognize words with a voiceless neighbor when these words have a shorter, intermediate, pre-voicing rather than a longer one. Inhibitory skill did not predict recognition time for control words, indicating that the effect was due to the greater activation of the voiceless neighbor. Inhibition did not predict pre-voicing duration in production. These results indicate that individual differences in cognitive skills can influence phonological representations in speech perception.