Florian Hintz

Publications

Displaying 1 - 15 of 15
  • Jongman, S. R., Khoe, Y. H., & Hintz, F. (in press). Vocabulary size influences spontaneous speech in native language users: Validating the use of automatic speech recognition in individual differences research. Language and Speech.

    Abstract

    Previous research has shown that vocabulary size affects performance on laboratory word production tasks. Individuals who know many words show faster lexical access and retrieve more words belonging to pre-specified categories than individuals who know fewer words. The present study examined the relationship between receptive vocabulary size and speaking skills as assessed in a natural sentence production task. We asked whether measures derived from spontaneous responses to every-day questions correlate with the size of participants’ vocabulary. Moreover, we assessed the suitability of automatic speech recognition for the analysis of participants’ responses in complex language production data. We found that vocabulary size predicted indices of spontaneous speech: Individuals with a larger vocabulary produced more words and had a higher speech-silence ratio compared to individuals with a smaller vocabulary. Importantly, these relationships were reliably identified using manual and automated transcription methods. Taken together, our results suggest that spontaneous speech elicitation is a useful method to investigate natural language production and that automatic speech recognition can alleviate the burden of labor-intensive speech transcription.
  • Hintz, F., Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (2020). Visual context constrains language-mediated anticipatory eye movements. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73(3), 458-467. doi:10.1177/1747021819881615.

    Abstract

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

    Supplementary material

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  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Hintz, F., Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (2017). Predictors of verb-mediated anticipatory eye movements in the visual world. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43(9), 1352-1374. doi:10.1037/xlm0000388.

    Abstract

    Many studies have demonstrated that listeners use information extracted from verbs to guide anticipatory eye movements to objects in the visual context that satisfy the selection restrictions of the verb. An important question is what underlies such verb-mediated anticipatory eye gaze. Based on empirical and theoretical suggestions, we investigated the influence of five potential predictors of this behavior: functional associations and general associations between verb and target object, as well as the listeners’ production fluency, receptive vocabulary knowledge, and non-verbal intelligence. In three eye-tracking experiments, participants looked at sets of four objects and listened to sentences where the final word was predictable or not predictable (e.g., “The man peels/draws an apple”). On predictable trials only the target object, but not the distractors, were functionally and associatively related to the verb. In Experiments 1 and 2, objects were presented before the verb was heard. In Experiment 3, participants were given a short preview of the display after the verb was heard. Functional associations and receptive vocabulary were found to be important predictors of verb-mediated anticipatory eye gaze independent of the amount of contextual visual input. General word associations did not and non-verbal intelligence was only a very weak predictor of anticipatory eye movements. Participants’ production fluency correlated positively with the likelihood of anticipatory eye movements when participants were given the long but not the short visual display preview. These findings fit best with a pluralistic approach to predictive language processing in which multiple mechanisms, mediating factors, and situational context dynamically interact. 
  • Hintz, F., & Scharenborg, O. (2016). Neighbourhood density influences word recognition in native and non-native speech recognition in noise. In H. Van den Heuvel, B. Cranen, & S. Mattys (Eds.), Proceedings of the Speech Processing in Realistic Environments (SPIRE) workshop (pp. 46-47). Groningen.
  • Hintz, F., Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (2016). Encouraging prediction during production facilitates subsequent comprehension: Evidence from interleaved object naming in sentence context and sentence reading. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69(6), 1056-1063. doi:10.1080/17470218.2015.1131309.

    Abstract

    Many studies have shown that a supportive context facilitates language comprehension. A currently influential view is that language production may support prediction in language comprehension. Experimental evidence for this, however, is relatively sparse. Here we explored whether encouraging prediction in a language production task encourages the use of predictive contexts in an interleaved comprehension task. In Experiment 1a, participants listened to the first part of a sentence and provided the final word by naming aloud a picture. The picture name was predictable or not predictable from the sentence context. Pictures were named faster when they could be predicted than when this was not the case. In Experiment 1b the same sentences, augmented by a final spill-over region, were presented in a self-paced reading task. No difference in reading times for predictive vs. non-predictive sentences was found. In Experiment 2, reading and naming trials were intermixed. In the naming task, the advantage for predictable picture names was replicated. More importantly, now reading times for the spill-over region were considerable faster for predictive vs. non-predictive sentences. We conjecture that these findings fit best with the notion that prediction in the service of language production encourages the use of predictive contexts in comprehension. Further research is required to identify the exact mechanisms by which production exerts its influence on comprehension.
  • Hintz, F., & Scharenborg, O. (2016). The effect of background noise on the activation of phonological and semantic information during spoken-word recognition. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2016: The 17th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association (pp. 2816-2820).

    Abstract

    During spoken-word recognition, listeners experience phonological competition between multiple word candidates, which increases, relative to optimal listening conditions, when speech is masked by noise. Moreover, listeners activate semantic word knowledge during the word’s unfolding. Here, we replicated the effect of background noise on phonological competition and investigated to which extent noise affects the activation of semantic information in phonological competitors. Participants’ eye movements were recorded when they listened to sentences containing a target word and looked at three types of displays. The displays either contained a picture of the target word, or a picture of a phonological onset competitor, or a picture of a word semantically related to the onset competitor, each along with three unrelated distractors. The analyses revealed that, in noise, fixations to the target and to the phonological onset competitor were delayed and smaller in magnitude compared to the clean listening condition, most likely reflecting enhanced phonological competition. No evidence for the activation of semantic information in the phonological competitors was observed in noise and, surprisingly, also not in the clear. We discuss the implications of the lack of an effect and differences between the present and earlier studies.
  • Hintz, F. (2015). Predicting language in different contexts: The nature and limits of mechanisms in anticipatory language processing. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.

    Supplementary material

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  • Hintz, F., & Meyer, A. S. (2015). Prediction and production of simple mathematical equations: Evidence from anticipatory eye movements. PLoS One, 10(7): e0130766. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130766.

    Abstract

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

    Supplementary material

    Data availability
  • Hintz, F., & Huettig, F. (2015). The complexity of the visual environment modulates language-mediated eye gaze. In R. Mishra, N. Srinivasan, & F. Huettig (Eds.), Attention and Vision in Language Processing (pp. 39-55). Berlin: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-81-322-2443-3_3.

    Abstract

    Three eye-tracking experiments investigated the impact of the complexity of the visual environment on the likelihood of word-object mapping taking place at phonological, semantic and visual levels of representation during language-mediated visual search. Dutch participants heard spoken target words while looking at four objects embedded in displays of different complexity and indicated the presence or absence of the target object. During filler trials the target objects were present, but during experimental trials they were absent and the display contained various competitor objects. For example, given the target word “beaker”, the display contained a phonological (a beaver, bever), a shape (a bobbin, klos), a semantic (a fork, vork) competitor, and an unrelated distractor (an umbrella, paraplu). When objects were presented in simple four-object displays (Experiment 2), there were clear attentional biases to all three types of competitors replicating earlier research (Huettig and McQueen, 2007). When the objects were embedded in complex scenes including four human-like characters or four meaningless visual shapes (Experiments 1, 3), there were biases in looks to visual and semantic but not to phonological competitors. In both experiments, however, we observed evidence for inhibition in looks to phonological competitors, which suggests that the phonological forms of the objects nevertheless had been retrieved. These findings suggest that phonological word-object mapping is contingent upon the nature of the visual environment and add to a growing body of evidence that the nature of our visual surroundings induces particular modes of processing during language-mediated visual search.
  • Roswandowitz, C., Mathias, S. R., Hintz, F., Kreitewolf, J., Schelinski, S., & von Kriegstein, K. (2014). Two cases of selective developmental voice-recognition impairments. Current Biology, 24(19), 2348-2353. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2014.08.048.

    Abstract

    Recognizing other individuals is an essential skill in humans and in other species [1, 2 and 3]. Over the last decade, it has become increasingly clear that person-identity recognition abilities are highly variable. Roughly 2% of the population has developmental prosopagnosia, a congenital deficit in recognizing others by their faces [4]. It is currently unclear whether developmental phonagnosia, a deficit in recognizing others by their voices [5], is equally prevalent, or even whether it actually exists. Here, we aimed to identify cases of developmental phonagnosia. We collected more than 1,000 data sets from self-selected German individuals by using a web-based screening test that was designed to assess their voice-recognition abilities. We then examined potentially phonagnosic individuals by using a comprehensive laboratory test battery. We found two novel cases of phonagnosia: AS, a 32-year-old female, and SP, a 32-year-old male; both are otherwise healthy academics, have normal hearing, and show no pathological abnormalities in brain structure. The two cases have comparable patterns of impairments: both performed at least 2 SDs below the level of matched controls on tests that required learning new voices, judging the familiarity of famous voices, and discriminating pitch differences between voices. In both cases, only voice-identity processing per se was affected: face recognition, speech intelligibility, emotion recognition, and musical ability were all comparable to controls. The findings confirm the existence of developmental phonagnosia as a modality-specific impairment and allow a first rough prevalence estimate.

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  • Diaz, B., Hintz, F., Kiebel, S. J., & von Kriegstein, K. (2012). Dysfunction of the auditory thalamus in developmental dyslexia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(34), 13841-13846. doi:10.1073/pnas.1119828109.

    Abstract

    Developmental dyslexia, a severe and persistent reading and spelling impairment, is characterized by difficulties in processing speech sounds (i.e., phonemes). Here, we test the hypothesis that these phonological difficulties are associated with a dysfunction of the auditory sensory thalamus, the medial geniculate body (MGB). By using functional MRI, we found that, in dyslexic adults, the MGB responded abnormally when the task required attending to phonemes compared with other speech features. No other structure in the auditory pathway showed distinct functional neural patterns between the two tasks for dyslexic and control participants. Furthermore, MGB activity correlated with dyslexia diagnostic scores, indicating that the task modulation of the MGB is critical for performance in dyslexics. These results suggest that deficits in dyslexia are associated with a failure of the neural mechanism that dynamically tunes MGB according to predictions from cortical areas to optimize speech processing. This view on task-related MGB dysfunction in dyslexics has the potential to reconcile influential theories of dyslexia within a predictive coding framework of brain function.

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  • Hintz, F. (2011). Language-mediated eye movements and cognitive control. Master Thesis, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (Nijmegen)/University of Leipzig.

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  • Hintz, F. (2010). Speech and speaker recognition in dyslexic individuals. Bachelor Thesis, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (Leipzig)/University of Leipzig.

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