Falk Huettig


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  • Favier, S., Wright, A., Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (2019). Proficiency modulates between- but not within-language structural priming. Poster presented at the 21st Meeting of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology (ESCoP 2019), Tenerife, Spain.
  • Hintz, F., Ostarek, M., De Nijs, M., Joosen, D., & Huettig, F. (2019). N’Sync or A’Sync? The role of timing when acquiring spoken and written word forms in a tonal language. Poster presented at the 21st Meeting of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology (ESCoP 2019), Tenerife, Spain.


    Theories of reading propose that the quality of word form representations affects reading comprehension. One claim is that synchronous retrieval of orthographic and phonological representations leads to better performance than asynchronous retrieval. Based on this account, one may hypothesize that synchronous rather than asynchronous presentation of orthographic and phonological forms should be beneficial when establishing the mapping between both, as it should lead to tighter couplings. We tested this hypothesis in two multi-session experiments, where participants studied isolated words of a tonal language unknown to them, Chinese. During study, written (using Pinyin transcription) and spoken word forms were presented simultaneously or in asynchronous fashion (audio-first, written-first). In both experiments, we observed an advantage for asynchronous over synchronous presentation at test, with audio-first presentation being most beneficial. These results suggest that the timing of written and spoken word forms has profound effects on the ease of learning a new tonal language.
  • Ostarek, M., Alday, P. M., Gawel, O., Wolfgruber, J., Knudsen, B., Mantegna, F., & Huettig, F. (2019). Is neural entrainment a basic mechanism for structure building?. Poster presented at the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language (SNL 2019), Helsinki, Finland.
  • Hintz, F., Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (2014). Prediction using production or production engaging prediction?. Poster presented at the 20th Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing Conference (AMLAP 2014), Edinburgh (UK).


    Prominent theories of predictive language processing assume that language production processes are used to anticipate upcoming linguistic input during comprehension (Dell & Chang, 2014; Pickering & Garrod, 2013). Here, we explore the converse case: Does a task set including production in addition to comprehension encourage prediction, compared to a task only including comprehension? To test this hypothesis, we conducted a cross-modal naming experiment (Experiment 1) including an object naming task and a self-paced reading experiment (Experiment 2) that did not include overt production. We used the same predictable (N = 40) and non-predictable (N = 40) sentences in both experiments. The sentences consisted of a fixed agent, a transitive verb and a predictable or non-predictable target word (The man drinks a beer vs. The man buys a beer). Most of the empirical work on prediction used sentences in which the target words were highly predictable (often with a mean cloze probability > .8) and thus it is little surprising that participants engaged in predictive language processing very easily. In the current sentences, the mean cloze probability in the predictable sentences was .39 (ranging from .06 to .8; zero in the non-predictable sentences). If comprehenders are more likely to engage in predictive processing when the task set involves production, we should observe more pronounced effects of prediction in Experiment 1 as compared to Experiment 2. If production does not enhance prediction, we should observe similar effects of prediction in both experiments. In Experiment 1, participants (N = 54) listened to recordings of the sentences which ended right before the spoken target word. Coinciding with the end of the playback, a picture of the target word was shown which the participants were asked to name as fast as possible. Analyses of their naming latencies revealed a statistically significant naming advantage of 106 ms on predictable over non-predictable trials. Moreover, we found that the objects’ naming advantage was predicted by the target words’ cloze probability in the sentences (r = .411, p = .016). In Experiment 2, the same sentences were used in a self-paced reading experiment. To allow for testing of potential spill-over effects, we added a neutral prepositional phrase (buys a beer from the bar keeper/drinks a beer from the shop) to each sentence. Participants (N = 54) read the sentences word-by-word, advancing by pushing the space bar. On 30% of the trials, comprehension questions were used to keep up participants' focus on comprehending the sentences. Analyses of participants’ target and post-target reading times revealed numerical advantages of 6 ms and 20 ms, respectively, in the predictable as compared to the non-predictable condition. However, in both cases, this difference was not statistically reliable (t = .757, t = 1.43) and the significant positive correlation between an item’s naming advantage and its cloze probability as seen in Experiment 1 was absent (r = .037, p = .822). Importantly, the analysis of participants' responses to the comprehension questions, showed that they understood the sentences (mean accuracy = 93%). To conclude, although both experiments used the same sentences, we observed effects of prediction only when the task included production. In Experiment 2, no evidence for anticipation was found although participants clearly understood the sentences and the method has previously been shown to be sensitive to measure prediction effects (Van Berkum et al., 2005). Our results fit with a recent study by Gollan et al. (2011) who found only a small processing advantage of predictive over non-predictive sentences in reading (using highly predictable sentences with a cloze probability > . 87) but a strong prediction effect when participants read the same sentences and carried out an additional object naming task (see also Griffin & Bock, 1998). Taken together, the studies suggest that the comprehenders' task set exerts a powerful influence on the likelihood and magnitude of predictive language processing. When the task set involves language production, as is often the case in natural conversation, comprehenders might engage in prediction to a stronger degree than in pure comprehension tasks. Being able to predict words another person is about to say might optimize the comprehension process and enable smooth turn-taking.
  • Rommers, J., & Huettig, F. (2014). Limits to cross-modal semantic and object shape priming in sentence context. Poster presented at the Society for the Neurobiology of Language [SNL 2014], Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • Rommers, J., & Huettig, F. (2014). Limits to cross-modal semantic and object shape priming in sentence context. Poster presented at the 20th Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing Conference (AMLAP 2014), Edinburgh, UK.
  • Smith, A. C., Monaghan, P., & Huettig, F. (2014). Strains and symptoms of the ‘literacy virus’: Modelling the effects of orthographic transparency on phonological processing. Poster presented at the 20th Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing Conference (AMLAP 2014), Edinburgh, UK.
  • Brouwer, S., Mitterer, H., & Huettig, F. (2009). Listeners reconstruct reduced forms during spontaneous speech: Evidence from eye movements. Poster presented at 15th Annual Conference on Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing (AMLaP 2009), Barcelona, Spain.
  • Brouwer, S., Mitterer, H., & Huettig, F. (2009). Phonological competition during the recognition of spontaneous speech: Effects of linguistic context and spectral cues. Poster presented at 157th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Portland, OR.


    How do listeners recognize reduced forms that occur in spontaneous speech, such as “puter” for “computer”? To this end, eye-tracking experiments were performed in which participants heard a sentence and saw four printed words on a computer screen. The auditory stimuli contained canonical and reduced forms from a spontaneous speech corpus in different amounts of linguistic context. The four printed words were a “canonical form” competitor e.g., “companion”, phonologically similar to “computer”, a “reduced form” competitor e.g., “pupil”, phonologically similar to “puter” and two unrelated distractors. The results showed, first, that reduction inhibits word recognition overall. Second, listeners look more often to the “reduced form” competitor than to the “canonical form” competitor when reduced forms are presented in isolation or in a phonetic context. In full context, however, both competitors attracted looks: early rise of the “reduced form” competitor and late rise of the “canonical form” competitor. This “late rise” of the “canonical form” competitor was not observed when we replaced the original /p/ from “puter” with a real onset /p/. This indicates that phonetic detail and semantic/syntactic context are necessary for the recognition of reduced forms.

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