Displaying 1 - 46 of 46
  • 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. (2019). How much baseline correction do we need in ERP research? Extended GLM model can replace baseline correction while lifting its limits. Psychophysiology. Advance online publication. 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., & 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.

    Supplementary material

    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.
  • Bosker, H. R., Sjerps, M. J., & Reinisch, E. (2019). Spectral contrast effects are modulated by selective attention in ‘cocktail party’ settings. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics. Advance online publication. 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.

    Supplementary material

    13414_2019_1824_MOESM1_ESM.docx
  • Brehm, L., Jackson, C. N., & Miller, K. L. (2019). Speaker-specific processing of anomalous utterances. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 72(4), 764-778. doi:10.1177/1747021818765547.

    Abstract

    Existing work shows that readers often interpret grammatical errors (e.g., The key to the cabinets *were shiny) and sentence-level blends (“without-blend”: Claudia left without her headphones *off) in a non-literal fashion, inferring that a more frequent or more canonical utterance was intended instead. This work examines how interlocutor identity affects the processing and interpretation of anomalous sentences. We presented anomalies in the context of “emails” attributed to various writers in a self-paced reading paradigm and used comprehension questions to probe how sentence interpretation changed based upon properties of the item and properties of the “speaker.” Experiment 1 compared standardised American English speakers to L2 English speakers; Experiment 2 compared the same standardised English speakers to speakers of a non-Standardised American English dialect. Agreement errors and without-blends both led to more non-literal responses than comparable canonical items. For agreement errors, more non-literal interpretations also occurred when sentences were attributed to speakers of Standardised American English than either non-Standardised group. These data suggest that understanding sentences relies on expectations and heuristics about which utterances are likely. These are based upon experience with language, with speaker-specific differences, and upon more general cognitive biases.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary material
  • 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.
  • Brehm, L., Hussey, E., & Christianson, K. (2019). The role of word frequency and morpho-orthography in agreement processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. 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.

    Supplementary material

    Supplemental material
  • Brehm, L., Taschenberger, L., & Meyer, A. S. (2019). Mental representations of partner task cause interference in picture naming. Acta Psychologica, 199: 102888. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2019.102888.

    Abstract

    Interference in picture naming occurs from representing a partner's preparations to speak (Gambi, van de Cavey, & Pickering, 2015). We tested the origins of this interference using a simple non-communicative joint naming task based on Gambi et al. (2015), where response latencies indexed interference from partner task and partner speech content, and eye fixations to partner objects indexed overt attention. Experiment 1 contrasted a partner-present condition with a control partner-absent condition to establish the role of the partner in eliciting interference. For latencies, we observed interference from the partner's task and speech content, with interference increasing due to partner task in the partner-present condition. Eye-tracking measures showed that interference in naming was not due to overt attention to partner stimuli but to broad expectations about likely utterances. Experiment 2 examined whether an equivalent non-verbal task also elicited interference, as predicted from a language as joint action framework. We replicated the finding of interference due to partner task and again found no relationship between overt attention and interference. These results support Gambi et al. (2015). Individuals co-represent a partner's task while speaking, and doing so does not require overt attention to partner stimuli.
  • Fairs, A. (2019). Linguistic dual-tasking: Understanding temporal overlap between production and comprehension. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Favier, S., Wright, A., Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (2019). Proficiency modulates between- but not within-language structural priming. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s41809-019-00029-1.

    Abstract

    The oldest of the Celtic language family, Irish differs considerably from English, notably with respect to word order and case marking. In spite of differences in surface constituent structure, less restricted accounts of bilingual shared syntax predict that processing datives and passives in Irish should prime the production of their English equivalents. Furthermore, this cross-linguistic influence should be sensitive to L2 proficiency, if shared structural representations are assumed to develop over time. In Experiment 1, we investigated cross-linguistic structural priming from Irish to English in 47 bilingual adolescents who are educated through Irish. Testing took place in a classroom setting, using written primes and written sentence generation. We found that priming for prepositional-object (PO) datives was predicted by self-rated Irish (L2) proficiency, in line with previous studies. In Experiment 2, we presented translations of the materials to an English-educated control group (n=54). We found a within-language priming effect for PO datives, which was not modulated by English (L1) proficiency. Our findings are compatible with current theories of bilingual language processing and L2 syntactic acquisition.
  • Goldrick, M., Brehm, L., Pyeong Whan, C., & Smolensky, P. (2019). Transient blend states and discrete agreement-driven errors in sentence production. In G. J. Snover, M. Nelson, B. O'Connor, & J. Pater (Eds.), Proceedings of the Society for Computation in Linguistics (SCiL 2019) (pp. 375-376). doi:10.7275/n0b2-5305.
  • Goldrick, M., McClain, R., Cibelli, E., Adi, Y., Gustafson, E., Moers, C., & Keshet, J. (2019). The influence of lexical selection disruptions on articulation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 45(6), 1107-1141. doi:10.1037/xlm0000633.

    Abstract

    Interactive models of language production predict that it should be possible to observe long-distance interactions; effects that arise at one level of processing influence multiple subsequent stages of representation and processing. We examine the hypothesis that disruptions arising in nonform-based levels of planning—specifically, lexical selection—should modulate articulatory processing. A novel automatic phonetic analysis method was used to examine productions in a paradigm yielding both general disruptions to formulation processes and, more specifically, overt errors during lexical selection. This analysis method allowed us to examine articulatory disruptions at multiple levels of analysis, from whole words to individual segments. Baseline performance by young adults was contrasted with young speakers’ performance under time pressure (which previous work has argued increases interaction between planning and articulation) and performance by older adults (who may have difficulties inhibiting nontarget representations, leading to heightened interactive effects). The results revealed the presence of interactive effects. Our new analysis techniques revealed these effects were strongest in initial portions of responses, suggesting that speech is initiated as soon as the first segment has been planned. Interactive effects did not increase under response pressure, suggesting interaction between planning and articulation is relatively fixed. Unexpectedly, lexical selection disruptions appeared to yield some degree of facilitation in articulatory processing (possibly reflecting semantic facilitation of target retrieval) and older adults showed weaker, not stronger interactive effects (possibly reflecting weakened connections between lexical and form-level representations).
  • Hervais-Adelman, A., Kumar, U., Mishra, R. K., Tripathi, V. N., Guleria, A., Singh, J. P., Eisner, F., & Huettig, F. (2019). Learning to read recycles visual cortical networks without destruction. Science Advances, 5(9): eaax0262. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aax0262.

    Abstract

    Learning to read is associated with the appearance of an orthographically sensitive brain region known as the visual word form area. It has been claimed that development of this area proceeds by impinging upon territory otherwise available for the processing of culturally relevant stimuli such as faces and houses. In a large-scale functional magnetic resonance imaging study of a group of individuals of varying degrees of literacy (from completely illiterate to highly literate), we examined cortical responses to orthographic and nonorthographic visual stimuli. We found that literacy enhances responses to other visual input in early visual areas and enhances representational similarity between text and faces, without reducing the extent of response to nonorthographic input. Thus, acquisition of literacy in childhood recycles existing object representation mechanisms but without destructive competition.

    Supplementary material

    aax0262_SM.pdf
  • Hintz*, F., Jongman*, S. R., Dijkhuis, M., Van 't Hoff, V., McQueen, J. M., & Meyer, A. S. (2019). Shared lexical access processes in speaking and listening? An individual differences study. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. Advance online publication. 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).
  • Hoedemaker, R. S., & Meyer, A. S. (2019). Planning and coordination of utterances in a joint naming task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 45(4), 732-752. doi:10.1037/xlm0000603.

    Abstract

    Dialogue requires speakers to coordinate. According to the model of dialogue as joint action, interlocutors achieve this coordination by corepresenting their own and each other’s task share in a functionally equivalent manner. In two experiments, we investigated this corepresentation account using an interactive joint naming task in which pairs of participants took turns naming sets of objects on a shared display. Speaker A named the first, or the first and third object, and Speaker B named the second object. In control conditions, Speaker A named one, two, or all three objects and Speaker B remained silent. We recorded the timing of the speakers’ utterances and Speaker A’s eye movements. Interturn pause durations indicated that the speakers effectively coordinated their utterances in time. Speaker A’s speech onset latencies depended on the number of objects they named, but were unaffected by Speaker B’s naming task. This suggests speakers were not fully incorporating their partner’s task into their own speech planning. Moreover, Speaker A’s eye movements indicated that they were much less likely to attend to objects their partner named than to objects they named themselves. When speakers did inspect their partner’s objects, viewing times were too short to suggest that speakers were retrieving these object names as if they were planning to name the objects themselves. These results indicate that speakers prioritized planning their own responses over attending to their interlocutor’s task and suggest that effective coordination can be achieved without full corepresentation of the partner’s task.
  • Huettig, F., & Guerra, E. (2019). Effects of speech rate, preview time of visual context, and participant instructions reveal strong limits on prediction in language processing. Brain Research, 1706, 196-208. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2018.11.013.

    Abstract

    There is a consensus among language researchers that people can predict upcoming language. But do people always predict when comprehending language? Notions that “brains … are essentially prediction machines” certainly suggest so. In three eye-tracking experiments we tested this view. Participants listened to simple Dutch sentences (‘Look at the displayed bicycle’) while viewing four objects (a target, e.g. a bicycle, and three unrelated distractors). We used the identical visual stimuli and the same spoken sentences but varied speech rates, preview time, and participant instructions. Target nouns were preceded by definite gender-marked determiners, which allowed participants to predict the target object because only the targets but not the distractors agreed in gender with the determiner. In Experiment 1, participants had four seconds preview and sentences were presented either in a slow or a normal speech rate. Participants predicted the targets as soon as they heard the determiner in both conditions. Experiment 2 was identical except that participants were given only a one second preview. Participants predicted the targets only in the slow speech condition. Experiment 3 was identical to Experiment 2 except that participants were explicitly told to predict. This led only to a small prediction effect in the normal speech condition. Thus, a normal speech rate only afforded prediction if participants had an extensive preview. Even the explicit instruction to predict the target resulted in only a small anticipation effect with a normal speech rate and a short preview. These findings are problematic for theoretical proposals that assume that prediction pervades cognition.
  • Huettig, F., & Pickering, M. (2019). Literacy advantages beyond reading: Prediction of spoken language. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 23(6), 464-475. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2019.03.008.

    Abstract

    Literacy has many obvious benefits—it exposes the reader to a wealth of new information and enhances syntactic knowledge. However, we argue that literacy has an additional, often overlooked, benefit: it enhances people’s ability to predict spoken language thereby aiding comprehension. Readers are under pressure to process information more quickly than listeners, and reading provides excellent conditions, in particular a stable environment, for training the predictive system. It also leads to increased awareness of words as linguistic units, and more fine-grained phonological and additional orthographic representations, which sharpen lexical representations and facilitate predicted representations to be retrieved. Thus, reading trains core processes and representations involved in language prediction that are common to both reading and listening.
  • Iacozza, S., Meyer, A. S., & Lev-Ari, S. (2019). How in-group bias influences source memory for words learned from in-group and out-group speakers. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13: 308. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00308.

    Abstract

    Individuals rapidly extract information about others’ social identity, including whether or not they belong to their in-group. Group membership status has been shown to affect how attentively people encode information conveyed by those others. These findings are highly relevant for the field of psycholinguistics where there exists an open debate on how words are represented in the mental lexicon and how abstract or context-specific these representations are. Here, we used a novel word learning paradigm to test our proposal that the group membership status of speakers also affects how speaker-specific representations of novel words are. Participants learned new words from speakers who either attended their own university (in-group speakers) or did not (out-group speakers) and performed a task to measure their individual in-group bias. Then, their source memory of the new words was tested in a recognition test to probe the speaker-specific content of the novel lexical representations and assess how it related to individual in-group biases. We found that speaker group membership and participants’ in-group bias affected participants’ decision biases. The stronger the in-group bias, the more cautious participants were in their decisions. This was particularly applied to in-group related decisions. These findings indicate that social biases can influence recognition threshold. Taking a broader scope, defining how information is represented is a topic of great overlap between the fields of memory and psycholinguistics. Nevertheless, researchers from these fields tend to stay within the theoretical and methodological borders of their own field, missing the chance to deepen their understanding of phenomena that are of common interest. Here we show how methodologies developed in the memory field can be implemented in language research to shed light on an important theoretical issue that relates to the composition of lexical representations.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary material
  • Kaufeld, G., Ravenschlag, A., Meyer, A. S., Martin, A. E., & Bosker, H. R. (2019). Knowledge-based and signal-based cues are weighted flexibly during spoken language comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. Advance online publication. 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
  • Kim, N., Brehm, L., Sturt, P., & Yoshida, M. (2019). How long can you hold the filler: Maintenance and retrieval. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. 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.

    Supplementary material

    Supplemental material
  • Kim, N., Brehm, L., & Yoshida, M. (2019). The online processing of noun phrase ellipsis and mechanisms of antecedent retrieval. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(2), 190-213. doi:10.1080/23273798.2018.1513542.

    Abstract

    We investigate whether grammatical information is accessed in processing noun phrase ellipsis (NPE) and other anaphoric constructions. The first experiment used an agreement attraction paradigm to reveal that ungrammatical plural verbs following NPE with an antecedent containing a plural modifier (e.g. Derek’s key to the boxes … and Mary’s_ probably *are safe in the drawer) show similar facilitation to non-elided NPs. The second experiment used the same paradigm to examine a coordination construction without anaphoric elements, and the third examined anaphoric one. Agreement attraction was not observed in either experiment, suggesting that processing NPE is different from processing non-anaphoric coordination constructions or anaphoric one. Taken together, the results indicate that the parser is sensitive to grammatical distinctions at the ellipsis site where it prioritises and retrieves the head at the initial stage of processing and retrieves the local noun within the modifier phrase only when it is necessary in parsing NPE.

    Supplementary material

    Kim_Brehm_Yoshida_2018sup.pdf
  • Krebs, J., Wilbur, R. B., Alday, P. M., & Roehm, D. (2019). The impact of transitional movements and non-manual markings on the disambiguation of locally ambiguous argument structures in Austrian Sign Language (ÖGS). Language and Speech, 62(4), 652-680. doi:10.1177/0023830918801399.

    Abstract

    Previous studies of Austrian Sign Language (ÖGS) word-order variations have demonstrated the human processing system’s tendency to interpret a sentence-initial (case-) ambiguous argument as the subject of the clause (“subject preference”). The electroencephalogram study motivating the current report revealed earlier reanalysis effects for object-subject compared to subject-object sentences, in particular, before the start of the movement of the agreement marking sign. The effects were bound to time points prior to when both arguments were referenced in space and/or the transitional hand movement prior to producing the disambiguating sign. Due to the temporal proximity of these time points, it was not clear which visual cues led to disambiguation; that is, whether non-manual markings (body/shoulder/head shift towards the subject position) or the transitional hand movement resolved ambiguity. The present gating study further supports that disambiguation in ÖGS is triggered by cues occurring before the movement of the disambiguating sign. Further, the present study also confirms the presence of the subject preference in ÖGS, showing again that signers and speakers draw on similar strategies during language processing independent of language modality. Although the ultimate role of the visual cues leading to disambiguation (i.e., non-manual markings and transitional movements) requires further investigation, the present study shows that they contribute crucial information about argument structure during online processing. This finding provides strong support for granting these cues some degree of linguistic status (at least in ÖGS).
  • Lev-Ari, S. (2019). People with larger social networks are better at predicting what someone will say but not how they will say it. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(1), 101-114. doi:10.1080/23273798.2018.1508733.

    Abstract

    Prediction of upcoming words facilitates language processing. Individual differences in social experience, however, might influence prediction ability by influencing input variability and representativeness. This paper explores how individual differences in social network size influence prediction and how this influence differs across linguistic levels. In Experiment 1, participants predicted likely sentence completions from several plausible endings differing in meaning or only form (e.g. work vs. job). In Experiment 2, participants’ pupil size was measured as they listened to sentences whose ending was the dominant one or deviated from it in either meaning or form. Both experiments show that people with larger social networks are better at predicting upcoming meanings but not the form they would take. The results thus show that people with different social experience process language differently, and shed light on how social dynamics interact with the structure of the linguistic level to influence learning of linguistic patterns.

    Supplementary material

    plcp_a_1508733_sm8698.docx
  • Mantegna, F., Hintz, F., Ostarek, M., Alday, P. M., & Huettig, F. (2019). Distinguishing integration and prediction accounts of ERP N400 modulations in language processing through experimental design. Neuropsychologia, 134: 107199. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2019.107199.

    Abstract

    Prediction of upcoming input is thought to be a main characteristic of language processing (e.g. Altmann & Mirkovic, 2009; Dell & Chang, 2014; Federmeier, 2007; Ferreira & Chantavarin, 2018; Pickering & Gambi, 2018; Hale, 2001; Hickok, 2012; Huettig 2015; Kuperberg & Jaeger, 2016; Levy, 2008; Norris, McQueen, & Cutler, 2016; Pickering & Garrod, 2013; Van Petten & Luka, 2012). One of the main pillars of experimental support for this notion comes from studies that have attempted to measure electrophysiological markers of prediction when participants read or listened to sentences ending in highly predictable words. The N400, a negative-going and centro-parietally distributed component of the ERP occurring approximately 400ms after (target) word onset, has been frequently interpreted as indexing prediction of the word (or the semantic representations and/or the phonological form of the predicted word, see Kutas & Federmeier, 2011; Nieuwland, 2019; Van Petten & Luka, 2012; for review). A major difficulty for interpreting N400 effects in language processing however is that it has been difficult to establish whether N400 target word modulations conclusively reflect prediction rather than (at least partly) ease of integration. In the present exploratory study, we attempted to distinguish lexical prediction (i.e. ‘top-down’ activation) from lexical integration (i.e. ‘bottom-up’ activation) accounts of ERP N400 modulations in language processing.
  • Martin, A. E., & Doumas, L. A. A. (2019). Predicate learning in neural systems: Using oscillations to discover latent structure. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 29, 77-83. doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2019.04.008.

    Abstract

    Humans learn to represent complex structures (e.g. natural language, music, mathematics) from experience with their environments. Often such structures are latent, hidden, or not encoded in statistics about sensory representations alone. Accounts of human cognition have long emphasized the importance of structured representations, yet the majority of contemporary neural networks do not learn structure from experience. Here, we describe one way that structured, functionally symbolic representations can be instantiated in an artificial neural network. Then, we describe how such latent structures (viz. predicates) can be learned from experience with unstructured data. Our approach exploits two principles from psychology and neuroscience: comparison of representations, and the naturally occurring dynamic properties of distributed computing across neuronal assemblies (viz. neural oscillations). We discuss how the ability to learn predicates from experience, to represent information compositionally, and to extrapolate knowledge to unseen data is core to understanding and modeling the most complex human behaviors (e.g. relational reasoning, analogy, language processing, game play).
  • Maslowski, M., Meyer, A. S., & Bosker, H. R. (2019). Listeners normalize speech for contextual speech rate even without an explicit recognition task. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 146(1), 179-188. doi:10.1121/1.5116004.

    Abstract

    Speech can be produced at different rates. Listeners take this rate variation into account by normalizing vowel duration for contextual speech rate: An ambiguous Dutch word /m?t/ is perceived as short /mAt/ when embedded in a slow context, but long /ma:t/ in a fast context. Whilst some have argued that this rate normalization involves low-level automatic perceptual processing, there is also evidence that it arises at higher-level cognitive processing stages, such as decision making. Prior research on rate-dependent speech perception has only used explicit recognition tasks to investigate the phenomenon, involving both perceptual processing and decision making. This study tested whether speech rate normalization can be observed without explicit decision making, using a cross-modal repetition priming paradigm. Results show that a fast precursor sentence makes an embedded ambiguous prime (/m?t/) sound (implicitly) more /a:/-like, facilitating lexical access to the long target word "maat" in a (explicit) lexical decision task. This result suggests that rate normalization is automatic, taking place even in the absence of an explicit recognition task. Thus, rate normalization is placed within the realm of everyday spoken conversation, where explicit categorization of ambiguous sounds is rare.
  • Maslowski, M., Meyer, A. S., & Bosker, H. R. (2019). How the tracking of habitual rate influences speech perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 45(1), 128-138. doi:10.1037/xlm0000579.

    Abstract

    Listeners are known to track statistical regularities in speech. Yet, which temporal cues are encoded is unclear. This study tested effects of talker-specific habitual speech rate and talker-independent average speech rate (heard over a longer period of time) on the perception of the temporal Dutch vowel contrast /A/-/a:/. First, Experiment 1 replicated that slow local (surrounding) speech contexts induce fewer long /a:/ responses than faster contexts. Experiment 2 tested effects of long-term habitual speech rate. One high-rate group listened to ambiguous vowels embedded in `neutral' speech from talker A, intermixed with speech from fast talker B. Another low-rate group listened to the same `neutral' speech from talker A, but to talker B being slow. Between-group comparison of the `neutral' trials showed that the high-rate group demonstrated a lower proportion of /a:/ responses, indicating that talker A's habitual speech rate sounded slower when B was faster. In Experiment 3, both talkers produced speech at both rates, removing the different habitual speech rates of talker A and B, while maintaining the average rate differing between groups. This time no global rate effect was observed. Taken together, the present experiments show that a talker's habitual rate is encoded relative to the habitual rate of another talker, carrying implications for episodic and constraint-based models of speech perception.
  • Meyer, A. S., Roelofs, A., & Brehm, L. (2019). Thirty years of Speaking: An introduction to the special issue. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(9), 1073-1084. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1652763.

    Abstract

    Thirty years ago, Pim Levelt published Speaking. During the 10th International Workshop on Language Production held at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen in July 2018, researchers reflected on the impact of the book in the field, developments since its publication, and current research trends. The contributions in this Special Issue are closely related to the presentations given at the workshop. In this editorial, we sketch the research agenda set by Speaking, review how different aspects of this agenda are taken up in the papers in this volume and outline directions for further research.
  • Nuthmann, A., De Groot, F., Huettig, F., & Olivers, C. L. N. (2019). Extrafoveal attentional capture by object semantics. PLoS One, 14(5): e0217051. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0217051.

    Abstract

    There is ongoing debate on whether object meaning can be processed outside foveal vision, making semantics available for attentional guidance. Much of the debate has centred on whether objects that do not fit within an overall scene draw attention, in complex displays that are often difficult to control. Here, we revisited the question by reanalysing data from three experiments that used displays consisting of standalone objects from a carefully controlled stimulus set. Observers searched for a target object, as per auditory instruction. On the critical trials, the displays contained no target but objects that were semantically related to the target, visually related, or unrelated. Analyses using (generalized) linear mixed-effects models showed that, although visually related objects attracted most attention, semantically related objects were also fixated earlier in time than unrelated objects. Moreover, semantic matches affected the very first saccade in the display. The amplitudes of saccades that first entered semantically related objects were larger than 5° on average, confirming that object semantics is available outside foveal vision. Finally, there was no semantic capture of attention for the same objects when observers did not actively look for the target, confirming that it was not stimulus-driven. We discuss the implications for existing models of visual cognition.
  • Ostarek, M., Joosen, D., Ishag, A., De Nijs, M., & Huettig, F. (2019). Are visual processes causally involved in “perceptual simulation” effects in the sentence-picture verification task? Cognition, 182, 84-94. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2018.08.017.

    Abstract

    Many studies have shown that sentences implying an object to have a certain shape produce a robust reaction time advantage for shape-matching pictures in the sentence-picture verification task. Typically, this finding has been interpreted as evidence for perceptual simulation, i.e., that access to implicit shape information involves the activation of modality-specific visual processes. It follows from this proposal that disrupting visual processing during sentence comprehension should interfere with perceptual simulation and obliterate the match effect. Here we directly test this hypothesis. Participants listened to sentences while seeing either visual noise that was previously shown to strongly interfere with basic visual processing or a blank screen. Experiments 1 and 2 replicated the match effect but crucially visual noise did not modulate it. When an interference technique was used that targeted high-level semantic processing (Experiment 3) however the match effect vanished. Visual noise specifically targeting high-level visual processes (Experiment 4) only had a minimal effect on the match effect. We conclude that the shape match effect in the sentence-picture verification paradigm is unlikely to rely on perceptual simulation.
  • Ostarek, M., & Huettig, F. (2019). Six challenges for embodiment research. Current Directions in Psychological Science. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0963721419866441.

    Abstract

    20 years after Barsalou's seminal perceptual symbols paper (Barsalou, 1999), embodied cognition, the notion that cognition involves simulations of sensory, motor, or affective states, has moved in status from an outlandish proposal advanced by a fringe movement in psychology to a mainstream position adopted by large numbers of researchers in the psychological and cognitive (neuro)sciences. While it has generated highly productive work in the cognitive sciences as a whole, it had a particularly strong impact on research into language comprehension. The view of a mental lexicon based on symbolic word representations, which are arbitrarily linked to sensory aspects of their referents, for example, was generally accepted since the cognitive revolution in the 1950s. This has radically changed. Given the current status of embodiment as a main theory of cognition, it is somewhat surprising that a close look at the state of the affairs in the literature reveals that the debate about the nature of the processes involved in language comprehension is far from settled and key questions remain unanswered. We present several suggestions for a productive way forward.
  • Raviv, L., Meyer, A. S., & Lev-Ari, S. (2019). Compositional structure can emerge without generational transmission. Cognition, 182, 151-164. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.010.

    Abstract

    Experimental work in the field of language evolution has shown that novel signal systems become more structured over time. In a recent paper, Kirby, Tamariz, Cornish, and Smith (2015) argued that compositional languages can emerge only when languages are transmitted across multiple generations. In the current paper, we show that compositional languages can emerge in a closed community within a single generation. We conducted a communication experiment in which we tested the emergence of linguistic structure in different micro-societies of four participants, who interacted in alternating dyads using an artificial language to refer to novel meanings. Importantly, the communication included two real-world aspects of language acquisition and use, which introduce compressibility pressures: (a) multiple interaction partners and (b) an expanding meaning space. Our results show that languages become significantly more structured over time, with participants converging on shared, stable, and compositional lexicons. These findings indicate that new learners are not necessary for the formation of linguistic structure within a community, and have implications for related fields such as developing sign languages and creoles.
  • Raviv, L., Meyer, A. S., & Lev-Ari, S. (2019). Larger communities create more systematic languages. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 286(1907): 20191262. doi:10.1098/rspb.2019.1262.

    Abstract

    Understanding worldwide patterns of language diversity has long been a goal for evolutionary scientists, linguists and philosophers. Research over the past decade has suggested that linguistic diversity may result from differences in the social environments in which languages evolve. Specifically, recent work found that languages spoken in larger communities typically have more systematic grammatical structures. However, in the real world, community size is confounded with other social factors such as network structure and the number of second languages learners in the community, and it is often assumed that linguistic simplification is driven by these factors instead. Here, we show that in contrast to previous assumptions, community size has a unique and important influence on linguistic structure. We experimentally examine the live formation of new languages created in the laboratory by small and larger groups, and find that larger groups of interacting participants develop more systematic languages over time, and do so faster and more consistently than small groups. Small groups also vary more in their linguistic behaviours, suggesting that small communities are more vulnerable to drift. These results show that community size predicts patterns of language diversity, and suggest that an increase in community size might have contributed to language evolution.
  • Rodd, J., Bosker, H. R., Ten Bosch, L., & Ernestus, M. (2019). Deriving the onset and offset times of planning units from acoustic and articulatory measurements. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 145(2), EL161-EL167. doi:10.1121/1.5089456.

    Abstract

    Many psycholinguistic models of speech sequence planning make claims about the onset and offset times of planning units, such as words, syllables, and phonemes. These predictions typically go untested, however, since psycholinguists have assumed that the temporal dynamics of the speech signal is a poor index of the temporal dynamics of the underlying speech planning process. This article argues that this problem is tractable, and presents and validates two simple metrics that derive planning unit onset and offset times from the acoustic signal and articulatographic data.
  • Schuerman, W. L., McQueen, J. M., & Meyer, A. S. (2019). Speaker statistical averageness modulates word recognition in adverse listening conditions. In S. Calhoun, P. Escudero, M. Tabain, & P. Warren (Eds.), Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 20195) (pp. 1203-1207). Canberra, Australia: Australasian Speech Science and Technology Association Inc.

    Abstract

    We tested whether statistical averageness (SA) at the level of the individual speaker could predict a speaker’s intelligibility. 28 female and 21 male speakers of Dutch were recorded producing 336 sentences, each containing two target nouns. Recordings were compared to those of all other same-sex speakers using dynamic time warping (DTW). For each sentence, the DTW distance constituted a metric of phonetic distance from one speaker to all other speakers. SA comprised the average of these distances. Later, the same participants performed a word recognition task on the target nouns in the same sentences, under three degraded listening conditions. In all three conditions, accuracy increased with SA. This held even when participants listened to their own utterances. These findings suggest that listeners process speech with respect to the statistical properties of the language spoken in their community, rather than using their own speech as a reference
  • Shao, Z., Van Paridon, J., Poletiek, F. H., & Meyer, A. S. (2019). Effects of phrase and word frequencies in noun phrase production. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 45(1), 147-165. doi:10.1037/xlm0000570.

    Abstract

    There is mounting evidence that the ease of producing and understanding language depends not only on the frequencies of individual words but also on the frequencies of word combinations. However, in two picture description experiments, Janssen and Barber (2012) found that French and Spanish speakers' speech onset latencies for short phrases depended exclusively on the frequencies of the phrases but not on the frequencies of the individual words. They suggested that speakers retrieved phrase-sized units from the mental lexicon. In the present study, we examined whether the time required to plan complex noun phrases in Dutch would likewise depend only on phrase frequencies. Participants described line drawings in phrases such as rode schoen [red shoe] (Experiments 1 and 2) or de rode schoen [the red shoe] (Experiment 3). Replicating Janssen and Barber's findings, utterance onset latencies depended on the frequencies of the phrases but, deviating from their findings, also depended on the frequencies of the adjectives in adjective-noun phrases and the frequencies of the nouns in determiner-adjective-noun phrases. We conclude that individual word frequencies and phrase frequencies both affect the time needed to produce noun phrases and discuss how these findings may be captured in models of the mental lexicon and of phrase production
  • Smalle, E., Szmalec, A., Bogaerts, L., Page, M. P. A., Narang, V., Misra, D., Araujo, S., Lohagun, N., Khan, O., Singh, A., Mishra, R. K., & Huettig, F. (2019). Literacy improves short-term serial recall of spoken verbal but not visuospatial items - Evidence from illiterate and literate adults. Cognition, 185, 144-150. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2019.01.012.

    Abstract

    It is widely accepted that specific memory processes, such as serial-order memory, are involved in written language development and predictive of reading and spelling abilities. The reverse question, namely whether orthographic abilities also affect serial-order memory, has hardly been investigated. In the current study, we compared 20 illiterate people with a group of 20 literate matched controls on a verbal and a visuospatial version of the Hebb paradigm, measuring both short- and long-term serial-order memory abilities. We observed better short-term serial-recall performance for the literate compared with the illiterate people. This effect was stronger in the verbal than in the visuospatial modality, suggesting that the improved capacity of the literate group is a consequence of learning orthographic skills. The long-term consolidation of ordered information was comparable across groups, for both stimulus modalities. The implications of these findings for current views regarding the bi-directional interactions between memory and written language development are discussed.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary material Datasets
  • Van Paridon, J., Roelofs, A., & Meyer, A. S. (2019). A lexical bottleneck in shadowing and translating of narratives. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34(6), 803-812. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1591470.

    Abstract

    In simultaneous interpreting, speech comprehension and production processes have to be coordinated in close temporal proximity. To examine the coordination, Dutch-English bilingual participants were presented with narrative fragments recorded in English at speech rates varying from 100 to 200 words per minute and they were asked to translate the fragments into Dutch (interpreting) or repeat them in English (shadowing). Interpreting yielded more errors than shadowing at every speech rate, and increasing speech rate had a stronger negative effect on interpreting than on shadowing. To understand the differential effect of speech rate, a computational model was created of sub-lexical and lexical processes in comprehension and production. Computer simulations revealed that the empirical findings could be captured by assuming a bottleneck preventing simultaneous lexical selection in production and comprehension. To conclude, our empirical and modelling results suggest the existence of a lexical bottleneck that limits the translation of narratives at high speed.

    Supplementary material

    plcp_a_1591470_sm5183.docx
  • Warren, C. M., Tona, K. D., Ouwekerk, L., Van Paridon, J., Poletiek, F. H., Bosch, J. A., & Nieuwenhuis, S. (2019). The neuromodulatory and hormonal effects of transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation as evidenced by salivary alpha amylase, salivary cortisol, pupil diameter, and the P3 event-related potential. Brain Stimulation, 12(3), 635-642. doi:10.1016/j.brs.2018.12.224.

    Abstract

    Background Transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) is a new, non-invasive technique being investigated as an intervention for a variety of clinical disorders, including epilepsy and depression. It is thought to exert its therapeutic effect by increasing central norepinephrine (NE) activity, but the evidence supporting this notion is limited. Objective In order to test for an impact of tVNS on psychophysiological and hormonal indices of noradrenergic function, we applied tVNS in concert with assessment of salivary alpha amylase (SAA) and cortisol, pupil size, and electroencephalograph (EEG) recordings. Methods Across three experiments, we applied real and sham tVNS to 61 healthy participants while they performed a set of simple stimulus-discrimination tasks. Before and after the task, as well as during one break, participants provided saliva samples and had their pupil size recorded. EEG was recorded throughout the task. The target for tVNS was the cymba conchae, which is heavily innervated by the auricular branch of the vagus nerve. Sham stimulation was applied to the ear lobe. Results P3 amplitude was not affected by tVNS (Experiment 1A: N=24; Experiment 1B: N=20; Bayes factor supporting null model=4.53), nor was pupil size (Experiment 2: N=16; interaction of treatment and time: p=0.79). However, tVNS increased SAA (Experiments 1A and 2: N=25) and attenuated the decline of salivary cortisol compared to sham (Experiment 2: N=17), as indicated by significant interactions involving treatment and time (p=.023 and p=.040, respectively). Conclusion These findings suggest that tVNS modulates hormonal indices but not psychophysiological indices of noradrenergic function.
  • Wolf, M. C., Smith, A. C., Meyer, A. S., & Rowland, C. F. (2019). Modality effects in vocabulary acquisition. In A. K. Goel, C. M. Seifert, & C. Freksa (Eds.), Proceedings of the 41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2019) (pp. 1212-1218). Montreal, QB: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    It is unknown whether modality affects the efficiency with which humans learn novel word forms and their meanings, with previous studies reporting both written and auditory advantages. The current study implements controls whose absence in previous work likely offers explanation for such contradictory findings. In two novel word learning experiments, participants were trained and tested on pseudoword - novel object pairs, with controls on: modality of test, modality of meaning, duration of exposure and transparency of word form. In both experiments word forms were presented in either their written or spoken form, each paired with a pictorial meaning (novel object). Following a 20-minute filler task, participants were tested on their ability to identify the picture-word form pairs on which they were trained. A between subjects design generated four participant groups per experiment 1) written training, written test; 2) written training, spoken test; 3) spoken training, written test; 4) spoken training, spoken test. In Experiment 1 the written stimulus was presented for a time period equal to the duration of the spoken form. Results showed that when the duration of exposure was equal, participants displayed a written training benefit. Given words can be read faster than the time taken for the spoken form to unfold, in Experiment 2 the written form was presented for 300 ms, sufficient time to read the word yet 65% shorter than the duration of the spoken form. No modality effect was observed under these conditions, when exposure to the word form was equivalent. These results demonstrate, at least for proficient readers, that when exposure to the word form is controlled across modalities the efficiency with which word form-meaning associations are learnt does not differ. Our results therefore suggest that, although we typically begin as aural-only word learners, we ultimately converge on developing learning mechanisms that learn equally efficiently from both written and spoken materials.
  • Wolf, M. C., Muijselaar, M. M. L., Boonstra, A. M., & De Bree, E. H. (2019). The relationship between reading and listening comprehension: Shared and modality-specific components. Reading and Writing, 32(7), 1747-1767. doi:10.1007/s11145-018-9924-8.

    Abstract

    This study aimed to increase our understanding on the relationship between reading and listening comprehension. Both in comprehension theory and in educational practice, reading and listening comprehension are often seen as interchangeable, overlooking modality-specific aspects of them separately. Three questions were addressed. First, it was examined to what extent reading and listening comprehension comprise modality-specific, distinct skills or an overlapping, domain-general skill in terms of the amount of explained variance in one comprehension type by the opposite comprehension type. Second, general and modality-unique subskills of reading and listening comprehension were sought by assessing the contributions of the foundational skills word reading fluency, vocabulary, memory, attention, and inhibition to both comprehension types. Lastly, the practice of using either listening comprehension or vocabulary as a proxy of general comprehension was investigated. Reading and listening comprehension tasks with the same format were assessed in 85 second and third grade children. Analyses revealed that reading comprehension explained 34% of the variance in listening comprehension, and listening comprehension 40% of reading comprehension. Vocabulary and word reading fluency were found to be shared contributors to both reading and listening comprehension. None of the other cognitive skills contributed significantly to reading or listening comprehension. These results indicate that only part of the comprehension process is indeed domain-general and not influenced by the modality in which the information is provided. Especially vocabulary seems to play a large role in this domain-general part. The findings warrant a more prominent focus of modality-specific aspects of both reading and listening comprehension in research and education.
  • Zormpa, E., Meyer, A. S., & Brehm, L. (2019). Slow naming of pictures facilitates memory for their names. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. Advance online publication. doi:10.3758/s13423-019-01620-x.

    Abstract

    Speakers remember their own utterances better than those of their interlocutors, suggesting that language production is beneficial to memory. This may be partly explained by a generation effect: The act of generating a word is known to lead to a memory advantage (Slamecka & Graf, 1978). In earlier work, we showed a generation effect for recognition of images (Zormpa, Brehm, Hoedemaker, & Meyer, 2019). Here, we tested whether the recognition of their names would also benefit from name generation. Testing whether picture naming improves memory for words was our primary aim, as it serves to clarify whether the representations affected by generation are visual or conceptual/lexical. A secondary aim was to assess the influence of processing time on memory. Fifty-one participants named pictures in three conditions: after hearing the picture name (identity condition), backward speech, or an unrelated word. A day later, recognition memory was tested in a yes/no task. Memory in the backward speech and unrelated conditions, which required generation, was superior to memory in the identity condition, which did not require generation. The time taken by participants for naming was a good predictor of memory, such that words that took longer to be retrieved were remembered better. Importantly, that was the case only when generation was required: In the no-generation (identity) condition, processing time was not related to recognition memory performance. This work has shown that generation affects conceptual/lexical representations, making an important contribution to the understanding of the relationship between memory and language.
  • Zormpa, E., Brehm, L., Hoedemaker, R. S., & Meyer, A. S. (2019). The production effect and the generation effect improve memory in picture naming. Memory, 27(3), 340-352. doi:10.1080/09658211.2018.1510966.

    Abstract

    The production effect (better memory for words read aloud than words read silently) and the picture superiority effect (better memory for pictures than words) both improve item memory in a picture naming task (Fawcett, J. M., Quinlan, C. K., & Taylor, T. L. (2012). Interplay of the production and picture superiority effects: A signal detection analysis. Memory (Hove, England), 20(7), 655–666. doi:10.1080/09658211.2012.693510). Because picture naming requires coming up with an appropriate label, the generation effect (better memory for generated than read words) may contribute to the latter effect. In two forced-choice memory experiments, we tested the role of generation in a picture naming task on later recognition memory. In Experiment 1, participants named pictures silently or aloud with the correct name or an unreadable label superimposed. We observed a generation effect, a production effect, and an interaction between the two. In Experiment 2, unreliable labels were included to ensure full picture processing in all conditions. In this experiment, we observed a production and a generation effect but no interaction, implying the effects are dissociable. This research demonstrates the separable roles of generation and production in picture naming and their impact on memory. As such, it informs the link between memory and language production and has implications for memory asymmetries between language production and comprehension.

    Supplementary material

    pmem_a_1510966_sm9257.pdf

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