Antje Meyer

Publications

Displaying 1 - 100 of 163
  • Maslowski, M., Meyer, A. S., & Bosker, H. R. (in press). Eye-tracking the time course of distal and global speech rate effects. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.

    Abstract

    To comprehend speech sounds, listeners tune in to speech rate information in the proximal (immediately adjacent), distal (non-adjacent), and global context (further removed preceding and following sentences). Effects of global contextual speech rate cues on speech perception have been shown to follow constraints not found for proximal and distal speech rate. Therefore, listeners may process such global cues at distinct time points during word recognition. We conducted a printed-word eye-tracking experiment to compare the time courses of distal and global rate effects. Results indicated that the distal rate effect emerged immediately after target sound presentation, in line with a general-auditory account. The global rate effect, however, arose more than 200 ms later than the distal rate effect, indicating that distal and global context effects involve distinct processing mechanisms. Results are interpreted in a two-stage model of acoustic context effects. This model posits that distal context effects involve very early perceptual processes, while global context effects arise at a later stage, involving cognitive adjustments conditioned by higher-level information.
  • 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

    Supplemental Material
  • Hintz, F., Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (2020). Activating words beyond the unfolding sentence: Contributions of event simulation and word associations to discourse reading. Neuropsychologia, 141: 107409. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2020.107409.

    Abstract

    Previous studies have shown that during comprehension readers activate words beyond the unfolding sentence. An open question concerns the mechanisms underlying this behavior. One proposal is that readers mentally simulate the described event and activate related words that might be referred to as the discourse further unfolds. Another proposal is that activation between words spreads in an automatic, associative fashion. The empirical support for these proposals is mixed. Therefore, theoretical accounts differ with regard to how much weight they place on the contributions of these sources to sentence comprehension. In the present study, we attempted to assess the contributions of event simulation and lexical associations to discourse reading, using event-related brain potentials (ERPs). Participants read target words, which were preceded by associatively related words either appearing in a coherent discourse event (Experiment 1) or in sentences that did not form a coherent discourse event (Experiment 2). Contextually unexpected target words that were associatively related to the described events elicited a reduced N400 amplitude compared to contextually unexpected target words that were unrelated to the events (Experiment 1). In Experiment 2, a similar but reduced effect was observed. These findings support the notion that during discourse reading event simulation and simple word associations jointly contribute to language comprehension by activating words that are beyond contextually congruent sentence continuations.
  • Hintz*, F., Jongman*, S. R., Dijkhuis, M., Van 't Hoff, V., McQueen, J. M., & Meyer, A. S. (2020). Shared lexical access processes in speaking and listening? An individual differences study. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 46(6), 1048-1063. doi:10.1037/xlm0000768.

    Abstract

    - * indicates joint first authorship - Lexical access is a core component of word processing. In order to produce or comprehend a word, language users must access word forms in their mental lexicon. However, despite its involvement in both tasks, previous research has often studied lexical access in either production or comprehension alone. Therefore, it is unknown to which extent lexical access processes are shared across both tasks. Picture naming and auditory lexical decision are considered good tools for studying lexical access. Both of them are speeded tasks. Given these commonalities, another open question concerns the involvement of general cognitive abilities (e.g., processing speed) in both linguistic tasks. In the present study, we addressed these questions. We tested a large group of young adults enrolled in academic and vocational courses. Participants completed picture naming and auditory lexical decision tasks as well as a battery of tests assessing non-verbal processing speed, vocabulary, and non-verbal intelligence. Our results suggest that the lexical access processes involved in picture naming and lexical decision are related but less closely than one might have thought. Moreover, reaction times in picture naming and lexical decision depended as least as much on general processing speed as on domain-specific linguistic processes (i.e., lexical access processes).
  • Iacozza, S., Meyer, A. S., & Lev-Ari, S. (2020). How in-group bias influences the level of detail of speaker-specific information encoded in novel lexical representations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 46(5), 894-906. doi:10.1037/xlm0000765.

    Abstract

    An important issue in theories of word learning is how abstract or context-specific representations of novel words are. One aspect of this broad issue is how well learners maintain information about the source of novel words. We investigated whether listeners’ source memory was better for words learned from members of their in-group (students of their own university) than it is for words learned from members of an out-group (students from another institution). In the first session, participants saw 6 faces and learned which of the depicted students attended either their own or a different university. In the second session, they learned competing labels (e.g., citrus-peller and citrus-schiller; in English, lemon peeler and lemon stripper) for novel gadgets, produced by the in-group and out-group speakers. Participants were then tested for source memory of these labels and for the strength of their in-group bias, that is, for how much they preferentially process in-group over out-group information. Analyses of source memory accuracy demonstrated an interaction between speaker group membership status and participants’ in-group bias: Stronger in-group bias was associated with less accurate source memory for out-group labels than in-group labels. These results add to the growing body of evidence on the importance of social variables for adult word learning.
  • Raviv, L., Meyer, A. S., & Lev-Ari, S. (2020). Network structure and the cultural evolution of linguistic structure: A group communication experiment. In A. Ravignani, C. Barbieri, M. Flaherty, Y. Jadoul, E. Lattenkamp, H. Little, M. Martins, K. Mudd, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference (Evolang13) (pp. 359-361). Nijmegen: The Evolution of Language Conferences.
  • Raviv, L., Meyer, A. S., & Lev-Ari, S. (2020). The role of social network structure in the emergence of linguistic structure. Cognitive Science, 44(8): e12876. doi:10.1111/cogs.12876.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

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

    Supplementary material

    Supplemental material
  • Sjerps, M. J., Decuyper, C., & Meyer, A. S. (2020). Initiation of utterance planning in response to pre-recorded and “live” utterances. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73(3), 357-374. doi:10.1177/1747021819881265.

    Abstract

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

    Abstract

    This neuroimaging study investigated the neural infrastructure of sentence-level language production. We compared brain activation patterns, as measured with BOLD-fMRI, during production of sentences that differed in verb argument structures (intransitives, transitives, ditransitives) and the lexical status of the verb (known verbs or pseudoverbs). The experiment consisted of 30 mini-blocks of six sentences each. Each mini-block started with an example for the type of sentence to be produced in that block. On each trial in the mini-blocks, participants were first given the (pseudo-)verb followed by three geometric shapes to serve as verb arguments in the sentences. Production of sentences with known verbs yielded greater activation compared to sentences with pseudoverbs in the core language network of the left inferior frontal gyrus, the left posterior middle temporalgyrus, and a more posterior middle temporal region extending into the angular gyrus, analogous to effects observed in language comprehension. Increasing the number of verb arguments led to greater activation in an overlapping left posterior middle temporal gyrus/angular gyrus area, particularly for known verbs, as well as in the bilateral precuneus. Thus, producing sentences with more complex structures using existing verbs leads to increased activation in the language network, suggesting some reliance on memory retrieval of stored lexical–syntactic information during sentence production. This study thus provides evidence from sentence-level language production in line with functional models of the language network that have so far been mainly based on single-word production, comprehension, and language processing in aphasia.
  • 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.
  • Favier, S., Wright, A., Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (2019). Proficiency modulates between- but not within-language structural priming. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science, 3(suppl. 1), 105-124. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Jongman, S. R., Piai, V., & Meyer, A. S. (2019). Planning for language production: The electrophysiological signature of attention to the cue to speak. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1690153.

    Abstract

    In conversation, speech planning can overlap with listening to the interlocutor. It has been postulated that once there is enough information to formulate a response, planning is initiated and the response is maintained in working memory. Concurrently, the auditory input is monitored for the turn end such that responses can be launched promptly. In three EEG experiments, we aimed to identify the neural signature of phonological planning and monitoring by comparing delayed responding to not responding (reading aloud, repetition and lexical decision). These comparisons consistently resulted in a sustained positivity and beta power reduction over posterior regions. We argue that these effects reflect attention to the sequence end. Phonological planning and maintenance were not detected in the neural signature even though it is highly likely these were taking place. This suggests that EEG must be used cautiously to identify response planning when the neural signal is overridden by attention effects
  • Kaufeld, G., Naumann, W., Meyer, A. S., Bosker, H. R., & Martin, A. E. (2019). Contextual speech rate influences morphosyntactic prediction and integration. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1701691.

    Abstract

    Understanding spoken language requires the integration and weighting of multiple cues, and may call on cue integration mechanisms that have been studied in other areas of perception. In the current study, we used eye-tracking (visual-world paradigm) to examine how contextual speech rate (a lower-level, perceptual cue) and morphosyntactic knowledge (a higher-level, linguistic cue) are iteratively combined and integrated. Results indicate that participants used contextual rate information immediately, which we interpret as evidence of perceptual inference and the generation of predictions about upcoming morphosyntactic information. Additionally, we observed that early rate effects remained active in the presence of later conflicting lexical information. This result demonstrates that (1) contextual speech rate functions as a cue to morphosyntactic inferences, even in the presence of subsequent disambiguating information; and (2) listeners iteratively use multiple sources of information to draw inferences and generate predictions during speech comprehension. We discuss the implication of these demonstrations for theories of language processing
  • Kaufeld, G., Ravenschlag, A., Meyer, A. S., Martin, A. E., & Bosker, H. R. (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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • McQueen, J. M., & Meyer, A. S. (2019). Key issues and future directions: Towards a comprehensive cognitive architecture for language use. In P. Hagoort (Ed.), Human language: From genes and brain to behavior (pp. 85-96). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Zormpa, E., Meyer, A. S., & Brehm, L. (2019). Slow naming of pictures facilitates memory for their names. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 26(5), 1675-1682. 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.
  • Duñabeitia, J. A., Crepaldi, D., Meyer, A. S., New, B., Pliatsikas, C., Smolka, E., & Brysbaert, M. (2018). MultiPic: A standardized set of 750 drawings with norms for six European languages. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 71(4), 808-816. doi:10.1080/17470218.2017.1310261.

    Abstract

    Numerous studies in psychology, cognitive neuroscience and psycholinguistics have used pictures of objects as stimulus materials. Currently, authors engaged in cross-linguistic work or wishing to run parallel studies at multiple sites where different languages are spoken must rely on rather small sets of black-and-white or colored line drawings. These sets are increasingly experienced as being too limited. Therefore, we constructed a new set of 750 colored pictures of concrete concepts. This set, MultiPic, constitutes a new valuable tool for cognitive scientists investigating language, visual perception, memory and/or attention in monolingual or multilingual populations. Importantly, the MultiPic databank has been normed in six different European languages (British English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Italian and German). All stimuli and norms are freely available at http://www.bcbl.eu/databases/multipic

    Supplementary material

    http://www.bcbl.eu/databases/multipic
  • Fairs, A., Bögels, S., & Meyer, A. S. (2018). Dual-tasking with simple linguistic tasks: Evidence for serial processing. Acta Psychologica, 191, 131-148. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2018.09.006.

    Abstract

    In contrast to the large amount of dual-task research investigating the coordination of a linguistic and a nonlinguistic task, little research has investigated how two linguistic tasks are coordinated. However, such research would greatly contribute to our understanding of how interlocutors combine speech planning and listening in conversation. In three dual-task experiments we studied how participants coordinated the processing of an auditory stimulus (S1), which was either a syllable or a tone, with selecting a name for a picture (S2). Two SOAs, of 0 ms and 1000 ms, were used. To vary the time required for lexical selection and to determine when lexical selection took place, the pictures were presented with categorically related or unrelated distractor words. In Experiment 1 participants responded overtly to both stimuli. In Experiments 2 and 3, S1 was not responded to overtly, but determined how to respond to S2, by naming the picture or reading the distractor aloud. Experiment 1 yielded additive effects of SOA and distractor type on the picture naming latencies. The presence of semantic interference at both SOAs indicated that lexical selection occurred after response selection for S1. With respect to the coordination of S1 and S2 processing, Experiments 2 and 3 yielded inconclusive results. In all experiments, syllables interfered more with picture naming than tones. This is likely because the syllables activated phonological representations also implicated in picture naming. The theoretical and methodological implications of the findings are discussed.

    Supplementary material

    1-s2.0-S0001691817305589-mmc1.pdf
  • Konopka, A., Meyer, A. S., & Forest, T. A. (2018). Planning to speak in L1 and L2. Cognitive Psychology, 102, 72-104. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2017.12.003.

    Abstract

    The leading theories of sentence planning – Hierarchical Incrementality and Linear Incrementality – differ in their assumptions about the coordination of processes that map preverbal information onto language. Previous studies showed that, in native (L1) speakers, this coordination can vary with the ease of executing the message-level and sentence-level processes necessary to plan and produce an utterance. We report the first series of experiments to systematically examine how linguistic experience influences sentence planning in native (L1) speakers (i.e., speakers with life-long experience using the target language) and non-native (L2) speakers (i.e., speakers with less experience using the target language). In all experiments, speakers spontaneously generated one-sentence descriptions of simple events in Dutch (L1) and English (L2). Analyses of eye-movements across early and late time windows (pre- and post-400 ms) compared the extent of early message-level encoding and the onset of linguistic encoding. In Experiment 1, speakers were more likely to engage in extensive message-level encoding and to delay sentence-level encoding when using their L2. Experiments 2–4 selectively facilitated encoding of the preverbal message, encoding of the agent character (i.e., the first content word in active sentences), and encoding of the sentence verb (i.e., the second content word in active sentences) respectively. Experiment 2 showed that there is no delay in the onset of L2 linguistic encoding when speakers are familiar with the events. Experiments 3 and 4 showed that the delay in the onset of L2 linguistic encoding is not due to speakers delaying encoding of the agent, but due to a preference to encode information needed to select a suitable verb early in the formulation process. Overall, speakers prefer to temporally separate message-level from sentence-level encoding and to prioritize encoding of relational information when planning L2 sentences, consistent with Hierarchical Incrementality
  • Kösem, A., Bosker, H. R., Takashima, A., Meyer, A. S., Jensen, O., & Hagoort, P. (2018). Neural entrainment determines the words we hear. Current Biology, 28, 2867-2875. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2018.07.023.

    Abstract

    Low-frequency neural entrainment to rhythmic input has been hypothesized as a canonical mechanism that shapes sensory perception in time. Neural entrainment is deemed particularly relevant for speech analysis, as it would contribute to the extraction of discrete linguistic elements from continuous acoustic signals. However, its causal influence in speech perception has been difficult to establish. Here, we provide evidence that oscillations build temporal predictions about the duration of speech tokens that affect perception. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG), we studied neural dynamics during listening to sentences that changed in speech rate. Weobserved neural entrainment to preceding speech rhythms persisting for several cycles after the change in rate. The sustained entrainment was associated with changes in the perceived duration of the last word’s vowel, resulting in the perception of words with different meanings. These findings support oscillatory models of speech processing, suggesting that neural oscillations actively shape speech perception.
  • Maslowski, M., Meyer, A. S., & Bosker, H. R. (2018). Listening to yourself is special: Evidence from global speech rate tracking. PLoS One, 13(9): e0203571. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0203571.

    Abstract

    Listeners are known to use adjacent contextual speech rate in processing temporally ambiguous speech sounds. For instance, an ambiguous vowel between short /A/ and long /a:/ in Dutch sounds relatively long (i.e., as /a:/) embedded in a fast precursor sentence, but short in a slow sentence. Besides the local speech rate, listeners also track talker-specific global speech rates. However, it is yet unclear whether other talkers' global rates are encoded with reference to a listener's self-produced rate. Three experiments addressed this question. In Experiment 1, one group of participants was instructed to speak fast, whereas another group had to speak slowly. The groups were compared on their perception of ambiguous /A/-/a:/ vowels embedded in neutral rate speech from another talker. In Experiment 2, the same participants listened to playback of their own speech and again evaluated target vowels in neutral rate speech. Neither of these experiments provided support for the involvement of self-produced speech in perception of another talker's speech rate. Experiment 3 repeated Experiment 2 but with a new participant sample that was unfamiliar with the participants from Experiment 2. This experiment revealed fewer /a:/ responses in neutral speech in the group also listening to a fast rate, suggesting that neutral speech sounds slow in the presence of a fast talker and vice versa. Taken together, the findings show that self-produced speech is processed differently from speech produced by others. They carry implications for our understanding of the perceptual and cognitive mechanisms involved in rate-dependent speech perception in dialogue settings.
  • Meyer, A. S., Alday, P. M., Decuyper, C., & Knudsen, B. (2018). Working together: Contributions of corpus analyses and experimental psycholinguistics to understanding conversation. Frontiers in Psychology, 9: 525. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00525.

    Abstract

    As conversation is the most important way of using language, linguists and psychologists should combine forces to investigate how interlocutors deal with the cognitive demands arising during conversation. Linguistic analyses of corpora of conversation are needed to understand the structure of conversations, and experimental work is indispensable for understanding the underlying cognitive processes. We argue that joint consideration of corpus and experimental data is most informative when the utterances elicited in a lab experiment match those extracted from a corpus in relevant ways. This requirement to compare like with like seems obvious but is not trivial to achieve. To illustrate this approach, we report two experiments where responses to polar (yes/no) questions were elicited in the lab and the response latencies were compared to gaps between polar questions and answers in a corpus of conversational speech. We found, as expected, that responses were given faster when they were easy to plan and planning could be initiated earlier than when they were harder to plan and planning was initiated later. Overall, in all but one condition, the latencies were longer than one would expect based on the analyses of corpus data. We discuss the implication of this partial match between the data sets and more generally how corpus and experimental data can best be combined in studies of conversation.

    Supplementary material

    Data_Sheet_1.pdf
  • Raviv, L., Meyer, A. S., & Lev-Ari, S. (2018). The role of community size in the emergence of linguistic structure. In C. Cuskley, M. Flaherty, H. Little, L. McCrohon, A. Ravignani, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (EVOLANG XII) (pp. 402-404). Toruń, Poland: NCU Press. doi:10.12775/3991-1.096.
  • Schillingmann, L., Ernst, J., Keite, V., Wrede, B., Meyer, A. S., & Belke, E. (2018). AlignTool: The automatic temporal alignment of spoken utterances in German, Dutch, and British English for psycholinguistic purposes. Behavior Research Methods, 50(2), 466-489. doi:10.3758/s13428-017-1002-7.

    Abstract

    In language production research, the latency with which speakers produce a spoken response to a stimulus and the onset and offset times of words in longer utterances are key dependent variables. Measuring these variables automatically often yields partially incorrect results. However, exact measurements through the visual inspection of the recordings are extremely time-consuming. We present AlignTool, an open-source alignment tool that establishes preliminarily the onset and offset times of words and phonemes in spoken utterances using Praat, and subsequently performs a forced alignment of the spoken utterances and their orthographic transcriptions in the automatic speech recognition system MAUS. AlignTool creates a Praat TextGrid file for inspection and manual correction by the user, if necessary. We evaluated AlignTool’s performance with recordings of single-word and four-word utterances as well as semi-spontaneous speech. AlignTool performs well with audio signals with an excellent signal-to-noise ratio, requiring virtually no corrections. For audio signals of lesser quality, AlignTool still is highly functional but its results may require more frequent manual corrections. We also found that audio recordings including long silent intervals tended to pose greater difficulties for AlignTool than recordings filled with speech, which AlignTool analyzed well overall. We expect that by semi-automatizing the temporal analysis of complex utterances, AlignTool will open new avenues in language production research.
  • Shao, Z., & Meyer, A. S. (2018). Word priming and interference paradigms. In A. M. B. De Groot, & P. Hagoort (Eds.), Research methods in psycholinguistics and the neurobiology of language: A practical guide (pp. 111-129). Hoboken: Wiley.
  • Tromp, J., Peeters, D., Meyer, A. S., & Hagoort, P. (2018). The combined use of Virtual Reality and EEG to study language processing in naturalistic environments. Behavior Research Methods, 50(2), 862-869. doi:10.3758/s13428-017-0911-9.

    Abstract

    When we comprehend language, we often do this in rich settings in which we can use many cues to understand what someone is saying. However, it has traditionally been difficult to design experiments with rich three-dimensional contexts that resemble our everyday environments, while maintaining control over the linguistic and non-linguistic information that is available. Here we test the validity of combining electroencephalography (EEG) and Virtual Reality (VR) to overcome this problem. We recorded electrophysiological brain activity during language processing in a well-controlled three-dimensional virtual audiovisual environment. Participants were immersed in a virtual restaurant, while wearing EEG equipment. In the restaurant participants encountered virtual restaurant guests. Each guest was seated at a separate table with an object on it (e.g. a plate with salmon). The restaurant guest would then produce a sentence (e.g. “I just ordered this salmon.”). The noun in the spoken sentence could either match (“salmon”) or mismatch (“pasta”) with the object on the table, creating a situation in which the auditory information was either appropriate or inappropriate in the visual context. We observed a reliable N400 effect as a consequence of the mismatch. This finding validates the combined use of VR and EEG as a tool to study the neurophysiological mechanisms of everyday language comprehension in rich, ecologically valid settings.
  • Barthel, M., Meyer, A. S., & Levinson, S. C. (2017). Next speakers plan their turn early and speak after turn-final ‘go-signals’. Frontiers in Psychology, 8: 393. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00393.

    Abstract

    In conversation, turn-taking is usually fluid, with next speakers taking their turn right after the end of the previous turn. Most, but not all, previous studies show that next speakers start to plan their turn early, if possible already during the incoming turn. The present study makes use of the list-completion paradigm (Barthel et al., 2016), analyzing speech onset latencies and eye-movements of participants in a task-oriented dialogue with a confederate. The measures are used to disentangle the contributions to the timing of turn-taking of early planning of content on the one hand and initiation of articulation as a reaction to the upcoming turn-end on the other hand. Participants named objects visible on their computer screen in response to utterances that did, or did not, contain lexical and prosodic cues to the end of the incoming turn. In the presence of an early lexical cue, participants showed earlier gaze shifts toward the target objects and responded faster than in its absence, whereas the presence of a late intonational cue only led to faster response times and did not affect the timing of participants' eye movements. The results show that with a combination of eye-movement and turn-transition time measures it is possible to tease apart the effects of early planning and response initiation on turn timing. They are consistent with models of turn-taking that assume that next speakers (a) start planning their response as soon as the incoming turn's message can be understood and (b) monitor the incoming turn for cues to turn-completion so as to initiate their response when turn-transition becomes relevant
  • Belke, E., Shao, Z., & Meyer, A. S. (2017). Strategic origins of early semantic facilitation in the blocked-cyclic naming paradigm. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43(10), 1659-1668. doi:10.1037/xlm0000399.

    Abstract

    In the blocked-cyclic naming paradigm, participants repeatedly name small sets of objects that do or do not belong to the same semantic category. A standard finding is that, after a first presentation cycle where one might find semantic facilitation, naming is slower in related (homogeneous) than in unrelated (heterogeneous) sets. According to competitive theories of lexical selection, this is because the lexical representations of the object names compete more vigorously in homogeneous than in heterogeneous sets. However, Navarrete, del Prato, Peressotti, and Mahon (2014) argued that this pattern of results was not due to increased lexical competition but to weaker repetition priming in homogeneous compared to heterogeneous sets. They demonstrated that when homogeneous sets were not repeated immediately but interleaved with unrelated sets, semantic relatedness induced facilitation rather than interference. We replicate this finding but also show that the facilitation effect has a strategic origin: It is substantial when sets are separated by pauses, making it easy for participants to notice the relatedness within some sets and use it to predict upcoming items. However, the effect is much reduced when these pauses are eliminated. In our view, the semantic facilitation effect does not constitute evidence against competitive theories of lexical selection. It can be accounted for within any framework that acknowledges strategic influences on the speed of object naming in the blocked-cyclic naming paradigm.
  • 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. 
  • Hoedemaker, R. S., Ernst, J., Meyer, A. S., & Belke, E. (2017). Language production in a shared task: Cumulative semantic interference from self- and other-produced context words. Acta Psychologica, 172, 55-63. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2016.11.007.

    Abstract

    This study assessed the effects of semantic context in the form of self-produced and other-produced words on subsequent language production. Pairs of participants performed a joint picture naming task, taking turns while naming a continuous series of pictures. In the single-speaker version of this paradigm, naming latencies have been found to increase for successive presentations of exemplars from the same category, a phenomenon known as Cumulative Semantic Interference (CSI). As expected, the joint-naming task showed a within-speaker CSI effect, such that naming latencies increased as a function of the number of category exemplars named previously by the participant (self-produced items). Crucially, we also observed an across-speaker CSI effect, such that naming latencies slowed as a function of the number of category members named by the participant's task partner (other-produced items). The magnitude of the across-speaker CSI effect did not vary as a function of whether or not the listening participant could see the pictures their partner was naming. The observation of across-speaker CSI suggests that the effect originates at the conceptual level of the language system, as proposed by Belke's (2013) Conceptual Accumulation account. Whereas self-produced and other-produced words both resulted in a CSI effect on naming latencies, post-experiment free recall rates were higher for self-produced than other-produced items. Together, these results suggest that both speaking and listening result in implicit learning at the conceptual level of the language system but that these effects are independent of explicit learning as indicated by item recall.
  • Jongman, S. R., Roelofs, A., Scheper, A., & Meyer, A. S. (2017). Picture naming in typically developing and language impaired children: The role of sustained attention. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 52(3), 323-333. doi:10.1111/1460-6984.12275.

    Abstract

    Children with specific language impairment (SLI) have problems not only with language performance but also with sustained attention, which is the ability to maintain alertness over an extended period of time. Although there is consensus that this ability is impaired with respect to processing stimuli in the auditory perceptual modality, conflicting evidence exists concerning the visual modality. Aims To address the outstanding issue whether the impairment in sustained attention is limited to the auditory domain, or if it is domain-general. Furthermore, to test whether children's sustained attention ability relates to their word-production skills. Methods & Procedures Groups of 7–9 year olds with SLI (N = 28) and typically developing (TD) children (N = 22) performed a picture-naming task and two sustained attention tasks, namely auditory and visual continuous performance tasks (CPTs). Outcomes & Results Children with SLI performed worse than TD children on picture naming and on both the auditory and visual CPTs. Moreover, performance on both the CPTs correlated with picture-naming latencies across developmental groups. Conclusions & Implications These results provide evidence for a deficit in both auditory and visual sustained attention in children with SLI. Moreover, the study indicates there is a relationship between domain-general sustained attention and picture-naming performance in both TD and language-impaired children. Future studies should establish whether this relationship is causal. If attention influences language, training of sustained attention may improve language production in children from both developmental groups.
  • Jongman, S. R., & Meyer, A. S. (2017). To plan or not to plan: Does planning for production remove facilitation from associative priming? Acta Psychologica, 181, 40-50. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2017.10.003.

    Abstract

    Theories of conversation propose that in order to have smooth transitions from one turn to the next, speakers already plan their response while listening to their interlocutor. Moreover, it has been argued that speakers align their linguistic representations (i.e. prime each other), thereby reducing the processing costs associated with concurrent listening and speaking. In two experiments, we assessed how identity and associative priming from spoken words onto picture naming were affected by a concurrent speech planning task. In a baseline (no name) condition, participants heard prime words that were identical, associatively related, or unrelated to target pictures presented two seconds after prime onset. Each prime was accompanied by a non-target picture and followed by its recorded name. The participant did not name the non-target picture. In the plan condition, the participants first named the non-target picture, instead of listening to the recording, and then the target. In Experiment 1, where the plan- and no-plan conditions were tested between participants, priming effects of equal strength were found in the plan and no-plan condition. In Experiment 2, where the two conditions were tested within participants, the identity priming effect was maintained, but the associative priming effect was only seen in the no-plan but not in the plan condition. In this experiment, participant had to decide at the onset of each trial whether or not to name the non-target picture, rendering the task more complex than in Experiment 1. These decision processes may have interfered with the processing of the primes. Thus, associative priming can take place during speech planning, but only if the cognitive load is not too high.
  • Mainz, N., Shao, Z., Brysbaert, M., & Meyer, A. S. (2017). Vocabulary Knowledge Predicts Lexical Processing: Evidence from a Group of Participants with Diverse Educational Backgrounds. Frontiers in Psychology, 8: 1164. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01164.

    Abstract

    Vocabulary knowledge is central to a speaker's command of their language. In previous research, greater vocabulary knowledge has been associated with advantages in language processing. In this study, we examined the relationship between individual differences in vocabulary and language processing performance more closely by (i) using a battery of vocabulary tests instead of just one test, and (ii) testing not only university students (Experiment 1) but young adults from a broader range of educational backgrounds (Experiment 2). Five vocabulary tests were developed, including multiple-choice and open antonym and synonym tests and a definition test, and administered together with two established measures of vocabulary. Language processing performance was measured using a lexical decision task. In Experiment 1, vocabulary and word frequency were found to predict word recognition speed while we did not observe an interaction between the effects. In Experiment 2, word recognition performance was predicted by word frequency and the interaction between word frequency and vocabulary, with high-vocabulary individuals showing smaller frequency effects. While overall the individual vocabulary tests were correlated and showed similar relationships with language processing as compared to a composite measure of all tests, they appeared to share less variance in Experiment 2 than in Experiment 1. Implications of our findings concerning the assessment of vocabulary size in individual differences studies and the investigation of individuals from more varied backgrounds are discussed.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary Material Appendices.pdf
  • Maslowski, M., Meyer, A. S., & Bosker, H. R. (2017). Whether long-term tracking of speech rate affects perception depends on who is talking. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2017 (pp. 586-590). doi:10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1517.

    Abstract

    Speech rate is known to modulate perception of temporally ambiguous speech sounds. For instance, a vowel may be perceived as short when the immediate speech context is slow, but as long when the context is fast. Yet, effects of long-term tracking of speech rate are largely unexplored. Two experiments tested whether long-term tracking of rate influences perception of the temporal Dutch vowel contrast /ɑ/-/a:/. In Experiment 1, one low-rate group listened to 'neutral' rate speech from talker A and to slow speech from talker B. Another high-rate group was exposed to the same neutral speech from A, but to fast speech from B. Between-group comparison of the 'neutral' trials revealed that the low-rate group reported a higher proportion of /a:/ in A's 'neutral' speech, indicating that A sounded faster when B was slow. Experiment 2 tested whether one's own speech rate also contributes to effects of long-term tracking of rate. Here, talker B's speech was replaced by playback of participants' own fast or slow speech. No evidence was found that one's own voice affected perception of talker A in larger speech contexts. These results carry implications for our understanding of the mechanisms involved in rate-dependent speech perception and of dialogue.
  • Meyer, A. S. (2017). Structural priming is not a Royal Road to representations. Commentary on Branigan and Pickering "An experimental approach to linguistic representation". Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40: e305. doi:10.1017/S0140525X1700053X.

    Abstract

    Branigan & Pickering (B&P) propose that the structural priming paradigm is a Royal Road to linguistic representations of any kind, unobstructed by in fl uences of psychological processes. In my view, however, they are too optimistic about the versatility of the paradigm and, more importantly, its ability to provide direct evidence about the nature of stored linguistic representations.
  • Meyer, A. S., & Gerakaki, S. (2017). The art of conversation: Why it’s harder than you might think. Contact Magazine, 43(2), 11-15. Retrieved from http://contact.teslontario.org/the-art-of-conversation-why-its-harder-than-you-might-think/.
  • Moers, C., Meyer, A. S., & Janse, E. (2017). Effects of word frequency and transitional probability on word reading durations of younger and older speakers. Language and Speech, 60(2), 289-317. doi:10.1177/0023830916649215.

    Abstract

    High-frequency units are usually processed faster than low-frequency units in language comprehension and language production. Frequency effects have been shown for words as well as word combinations. Word co-occurrence effects can be operationalized in terms of transitional probability (TP). TPs reflect how probable a word is, conditioned by its right or left neighbouring word. This corpus study investigates whether three different age groups–younger children (8–12 years), adolescents (12–18 years) and older (62–95 years) Dutch speakers–show frequency and TP context effects on spoken word durations in reading aloud, and whether age groups differ in the size of these effects. Results show consistent effects of TP on word durations for all age groups. Thus, TP seems to influence the processing of words in context, beyond the well-established effect of word frequency, across the entire age range. However, the study also indicates that age groups differ in the size of TP effects, with older adults having smaller TP effects than adolescent readers. Our results show that probabilistic reduction effects in reading aloud may at least partly stem from contextual facilitation that leads to faster reading times in skilled readers, as well as in young language learners.
  • Reifegerste, J., Meyer, A. S., & Zwitserlood, P. (2017). Inflectional complexity and experience affect plural processing in younger and older readers of Dutch and German. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 32(4), 471-487. doi:10.1080/23273798.2016.1247213.

    Abstract

    According to dual-route models of morphological processing, regular inflected words can be retrieved as whole-word forms or decomposed into morphemes. Baayen, Dijkstra, and Schreuder [(1997). Singulars and plurals in Dutch: Evidence for a parallel dual-route model. Journal of AQ2 Memory and Language, 37, 94–117. doi:10.1006/jmla.1997.2509] proposed a ¶ dual-route model according to which plurals of singular-dominant words (e.g. “brides”) are decomposed, while plurals of plural-dominant words (e.g. “peas”) are accessed as whole-word units. We report two lexical-decision experiments investigating how plural processing is influenced by participants’ age (a proxy for experience with word forms) and morphological complexity of the language (German versus Dutch). For both Dutch participant groups and older German participants, we replicated the interaction between number and dominance reported by Baayen and colleagues. Younger German participants showed a main effect of number, indicating access of all plurals via decomposition. Access to stored forms seems to depend on morphological richness and experience with word forms. The data pattern fits neither full-decomposition nor full-storage models, but is compatible with dual-route models

    Supplementary material

    plcp_a_1247213_sm6144.pdf
  • Rommers, J., Meyer, A. S., & Praamstra, P. (2017). Lateralized electrical brain activity reveals covert attention allocation during speaking. Neuropsychologia, 95, 101-110. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.12.013.

    Abstract

    Speakers usually begin to speak while only part of the utterance has been planned. Earlier work has shown that speech planning processes are reflected in speakers’ eye movements as they describe visually presented objects. However, to-be-named objects can be processed to some extent before they have been fixated upon, presumably because attention can be allocated to objects covertly, without moving the eyes. The present study investigated whether EEG could track speakers’ covert attention allocation as they produced short utterances to describe pairs of objects (e.g., “dog and chair”). The processing difficulty of each object was varied by presenting it in upright orientation (easy) or in upside down orientation (difficult). Background squares flickered at different frequencies in order to elicit steady-state visual evoked potentials (SSVEPs). The N2pc component, associated with the focusing of attention on an item, was detectable not only prior to speech onset, but also during speaking. The time course of the N2pc showed that attention shifted to each object in the order of mention prior to speech onset. Furthermore, greater processing difficulty increased the time speakers spent attending to each object. This demonstrates that the N2pc can track covert attention allocation in a naming task. In addition, an effect of processing difficulty at around 200–350 ms after stimulus onset revealed early attention allocation to the second to-be-named object. The flickering backgrounds elicited SSVEPs, but SSVEP amplitude was not influenced by processing difficulty. These results help complete the picture of the coordination of visual information uptake and motor output during speaking.
  • Schuerman, W. L., Meyer, A. S., & McQueen, J. M. (2017). Mapping the speech code: Cortical responses linking the perception and production of vowels. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11: 161. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2017.00161.

    Abstract

    The acoustic realization of speech is constrained by the physical mechanisms by which it is produced. Yet for speech perception, the degree to which listeners utilize experience derived from speech production has long been debated. In the present study, we examined how sensorimotor adaptation during production may affect perception, and how this relationship may be reflected in early vs. late electrophysiological responses. Participants first performed a baseline speech production task, followed by a vowel categorization task during which EEG responses were recorded. In a subsequent speech production task, half the participants received shifted auditory feedback, leading most to alter their articulations. This was followed by a second, post-training vowel categorization task. We compared changes in vowel production to both behavioral and electrophysiological changes in vowel perception. No differences in phonetic categorization were observed between groups receiving altered or unaltered feedback. However, exploratory analyses revealed correlations between vocal motor behavior and phonetic categorization. EEG analyses revealed correlations between vocal motor behavior and cortical responses in both early and late time windows. These results suggest that participants' recent production behavior influenced subsequent vowel perception. We suggest that the change in perception can be best characterized as a mapping of acoustics onto articulation
  • Barthel, M., Sauppe, S., Levinson, S. C., & Meyer, A. S. (2016). The timing of utterance planning in task-oriented dialogue: Evidence from a novel list-completion paradigm. Frontiers in Psychology, 7: 1858. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01858.

    Abstract

    In conversation, interlocutors rarely leave long gaps between turns, suggesting that next speak- ers begin to plan their turns while listening to the previous speaker. The present experiment used analyses of speech onset latencies and eye-movements in a task-oriented dialogue paradigm to investigate when speakers start planning their response. Adult German participants heard a confederate describe sets of objects in utterances that either ended in a noun (e.g. Ich habe eine Tür und ein Fahrrad (‘I have a door and a bicycle’)) or a verb form (Ich habe eine Tür und ein Fahrrad besorgt (‘I have gotten a door and a bicycle’)), while the presence or absence of the final verb either was or was not predictable from the preceding sentence structure. In response, participants had to name any unnamed objects they could see in their own display in utterances such as Ich habe ein Ei (‘I have an egg’). The main question was when participants started to plan their response. The results are consistent with the view that speakers begin to plan their turn as soon as sufficient information is available to do so, irrespective of further incoming words.
  • 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.
  • Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (Eds.). (2016). Speaking and Listening: Relationships Between Language Production and Comprehension [Special Issue]. Journal of Memory and Language, 89.
  • Meyer, A. S., Huettig, F., & Levelt, W. J. M. (2016). Same, different, or closely related: What is the relationship between language production and comprehension? Journal of Memory and Language, 89, 1-7. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2016.03.002.
  • Tromp, J., Hagoort, P., & Meyer, A. S. (2016). Pupillometry reveals increased pupil size during indirect request comprehension. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69, 1093-1108. doi:10.1080/17470218.2015.1065282.

    Abstract

    Fluctuations in pupil size have been shown to reflect variations in processing demands during lexical and syntactic processing in language comprehension. An issue that has not received attention is whether pupil size also varies due to pragmatic manipulations. In two pupillometry experiments, we investigated whether pupil diameter was sensitive to increased processing demands as a result of comprehending an indirect request versus a direct statement. Adult participants were presented with 120 picture–sentence combinations that could be interpreted either as an indirect request (a picture of a window with the sentence “it's very hot here”) or as a statement (a picture of a window with the sentence “it's very nice here”). Based on the hypothesis that understanding indirect utterances requires additional inferences to be made on the part of the listener, we predicted a larger pupil diameter for indirect requests than statements. The results of both experiments are consistent with this expectation. We suggest that the increase in pupil size reflects additional processing demands for the comprehension of indirect requests as compared to statements. This research demonstrates the usefulness of pupillometry as a tool for experimental research in pragmatics
  • Vuong, L., Meyer, A. S., & Christiansen, M. H. (2016). Concurrent statistical learning of adjacent and nonadjacent dependencies. Language Learning, 66, 8-30. doi:10.1111/lang.12137.

    Abstract

    When children learn their native language, they have to deal with a confusing array of dependencies between various elements in an utterance. The dependent elements may be adjacent to one another or separated by intervening material. Prior studies suggest that nonadjacent dependencies are hard to learn when the intervening material has little variability, which may be due to a trade-off between adjacent and nonadjacent learning. In this study, we investigate the statistical learning of adjacent and nonadjacent dependencies under low intervening variability using a modified serial reaction time (SRT) task. Young adults were trained on mixed sets of materials comprising equally probable adjacent and nonadjacent dependencies. Offline tests administered after training showed better performance for adjacent than nonadjacent dependencies. However, online SRT data indicated that the participants developed sensitivity to both types of dependencies during training, with no significant differences between dependency types. The results demonstrate the value of online measures of learning and suggest that adjacent and nonadjacent learning can occur together even when there is low variability in the intervening material
  • 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
  • Jongman, S. R., Meyer, A. S., & Roelofs, A. (2015). The role of sustained attention in the production of conjoined noun phrases: An individual differences study. PLoS One, 10(9): e0137557. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0137557.

    Abstract

    It has previously been shown that language production, performed simultaneously with a nonlinguistic task, involves sustained attention. Sustained attention concerns the ability to maintain alertness over time. Here, we aimed to replicate the previous finding by showing that individuals call upon sustained attention when they plan single noun phrases (e.g., "the carrot") and perform a manual arrow categorization task. In addition, we investigated whether speakers also recruit sustained attention when they produce conjoined noun phrases (e.g., "the carrot and the bucket") describing two pictures, that is, when both the first and second task are linguistic. We found that sustained attention correlated with the proportion of abnormally slow phrase-production responses. Individuals with poor sustained attention displayed a greater number of very slow responses than individuals with better sustained attention. Importantly, this relationship was obtained both for the production of single phrases while performing a nonlinguistic manual task, and the production of noun phrase conjunctions in referring to two spatially separated objects. Inhibition and updating abilities were also measured. These scores did not correlate with our measure of sustained attention, suggesting that sustained attention and executive control are distinct. Overall, the results suggest that planning conjoined noun phrases involves sustained attention, and that language production happens less automatically than has often been assumed.
  • Jongman, S. R., Roelofs, A., & Meyer, A. S. (2015). Sustained attention in language production: An individual differences investigation. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 68, 710-730. doi:10.1080/17470218.2014.964736.

    Abstract

    Whereas it has long been assumed that most linguistic processes underlying language production happen automatically, accumulating evidence suggests that some form of attention is required. Here, we investigated the contribution of sustained attention, which is the ability to maintain alertness over time. First, the sustained attention ability of participants was measured using auditory and visual continuous performance tasks. Next, the participants described pictures using simple noun phrases while their response times (RTs) and gaze durations were measured. Earlier research has suggested that gaze duration reflects language planning processes up to and including phonological encoding. Individual differences in sustained attention ability correlated with individual differences in the magnitude of the tail of the RT distribution, reflecting the proportion of very slow responses, but not with individual differences in gaze duration. These results suggest that language production requires sustained attention, especially after phonological encoding.
  • Moers, C., Janse, E., & Meyer, A. S. (2015). Probabilistic reduction in reading aloud: A comparison of younger and older adults. In M. Wolters, J. Livingstone, B. Beattie, R. Smith, M. MacMahon, J. Stuart-Smith, & J. Scobbie (Eds.), Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 2015). London: International Phonetics Association.

    Abstract

    Frequent and predictable words are generally pronounced with less effort and are therefore acoustically more reduced than less frequent or unpredictable words. Local predictability can be operationalised by Transitional Probability (TP), which indicates how likely a word is to occur given its immediate context. We investigated whether and how probabilistic reduction effects on word durations change with adult age when reading aloud content words embedded in sentences. The results showed equally large frequency effects on verb and noun durations for both younger (Mage = 20 years) and older (Mage = 68 years) adults. Backward TP also affected word duration for younger and older adults alike. ForwardTP, however, had no significant effect on word duration in either age group. Our results resemble earlier findings of more robust BackwardTP effects compared to ForwardTP effects. Furthermore, unlike often reported decline in predictive processing with aging, probabilistic reduction effects remain stable across adulthood.
  • Rommers, J., Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (2015). Verbal and nonverbal predictors of language-mediated anticipatory eye movements. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 77(3), 720-730. doi:10.3758/s13414-015-0873-x.

    Abstract

    During language comprehension, listeners often anticipate upcoming information. This can draw listeners’ overt attention to visually presented objects before the objects are referred to. We investigated to what extent the anticipatory mechanisms involved in such language-mediated attention rely on specific verbal factors and on processes shared with other domains of cognition. Participants listened to sentences ending in a highly predictable word (e.g., “In 1969 Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon”) while viewing displays containing three unrelated distractor objects and a critical object, which was either the target object (e.g., a moon), or an object with a similar shape (e.g., a tomato), or an unrelated control object (e.g., rice). Language-mediated anticipatory eye movements to targets and shape competitors were observed. Importantly, looks to the shape competitor were systematically related to individual differences in anticipatory attention, as indexed by a spatial cueing task: Participants whose responses were most strongly facilitated by predictive arrow cues also showed the strongest effects of predictive language input on their eye movements. By contrast, looks to the target were related to individual differences in vocabulary size and verbal fluency. The results suggest that verbal and nonverbal factors contribute to different types of language-mediated eye movement. The findings are consistent with multiple-mechanism accounts of predictive language processing.
  • Schuerman, W. L., Meyer, A. S., & McQueen, J. M. (2015). Do we perceive others better than ourselves? A perceptual benefit for noise-vocoded speech produced by an average speaker. PLoS One, 10(7): e0129731. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0129731.

    Abstract

    In different tasks involving action perception, performance has been found to be facilitated when the presented stimuli were produced by the participants themselves rather than by another participant. These results suggest that the same mental representations are accessed during both production and perception. However, with regard to spoken word perception, evidence also suggests that listeners’ representations for speech reflect the input from their surrounding linguistic community rather than their own idiosyncratic productions. Furthermore, speech perception is heavily influenced by indexical cues that may lead listeners to frame their interpretations of incoming speech signals with regard to speaker identity. In order to determine whether word recognition evinces similar self-advantages as found in action perception, it was necessary to eliminate indexical cues from the speech signal. We therefore asked participants to identify noise-vocoded versions of Dutch words that were based on either their own recordings or those of a statistically average speaker. The majority of participants were more accurate for the average speaker than for themselves, even after taking into account differences in intelligibility. These results suggest that the speech representations accessed during perception of noise-vocoded speech are more reflective of the input of the speech community, and hence that speech perception is not necessarily based on representations of one’s own speech.
  • Shao, Z., Roelofs, A., Martin, R., & Meyer, A. S. (2015). Selective inhibition and naming performance in semantic blocking, picture-word interference, and color-word stroop tasks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 41, 1806-1820. doi:10.1037/a0039363.

    Abstract

    In two studies, we examined whether explicit distractors are necessary and sufficient toevoke selective inhibition in three naming tasks: the semantic blocking, picture-word interference, and color-word Stroop task. Delta plots were used to quantify the size of the interference effects as a function of reaction time (RT). Selective inhibition was operationalized as the decrease in the size of the interference effect as a function of naming RT. For all naming tasks, mean naming RTs were significantly longer in the interference condition than in a control condition. The slopes of the interference effects for the longest naming RTs correlated with the magnitude of the mean interference effect in both the semantic blocking task and the picture-word interference task, suggesting that selective inhibition was involved to reduce the interference from strong semantic competitors either invoked by a single explicit competitor or strong implicit competitors in picture naming. However, there was no correlation between the slopes and the mean interference effect in the Stroop task, suggesting less importance of selective inhibition in this task despite explicit distractors. Whereas the results of the semantic blocking task suggest that an explicit distractor is not necessary for triggering inhibition, the results of the Stroop task suggest that such a distractor is not sufficient for evoking inhibition either.
  • Sjerps, M. J., & Meyer, A. S. (2015). Variation in dual-task performance reveals late initiation of speech planning in turn-taking. Cognition, 136, 304-324. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2014.10.008.

    Abstract

    The smooth transitions between turns in natural conversation suggest that speakers often begin to plan their utterances while listening to their interlocutor. The presented study investigates whether this is indeed the case and, if so, when utterance planning begins. Two hypotheses were contrasted: that speakers begin to plan their turn as soon as possible (in our experiments less than a second after the onset of the interlocutor’s turn), or that they do so close to the end of the interlocutor’s turn. Turn-taking was combined with a finger tapping task to measure variations in cognitive load. We assumed that the onset of speech planning in addition to listening would be accompanied by deterioration in tapping performance. Two picture description experiments were conducted. In both experiments there were three conditions: (1) Tapping and Speaking, where participants tapped a complex pattern while taking over turns from a pre-recorded speaker, (2) Tapping and Listening, where participants carried out the tapping task while overhearing two pre-recorded speakers, and (3) Speaking Only, where participants took over turns as in the Tapping and Speaking condition but without tapping. The experiments differed in the amount of tapping training the participants received at the beginning of the session. In Experiment 2, the participants’ eye-movements were recorded in addition to their speech and tapping. Analyses of the participants’ tapping performance and eye movements showed that they initiated the cognitively demanding aspects of speech planning only shortly before the end of the turn of the preceding speaker. We argue that this is a smart planning strategy, which may be the speakers’ default in many everyday situations.
  • Veenstra, A., Meyer, A. S., & Acheson, D. J. (2015). Effects of parallel planning on agreement production. Acta Psychologica, 162, 29-39. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2015.09.011.

    Abstract

    An important issue in current psycholinguistics is how the time course of utterance planning affects the generation of grammatical structures. The current study investigated the influence of parallel activation of the components of complex noun phrases on the generation of subject-verb agreement. Specifically, the lexical interference account (Gillespie, M. and Pearlmutter, N. J., 2011b and Solomon, E. S. and Pearlmutter, N. J., 2004) predicts more agreement errors (i.e., attraction) for subject phrases in which the head and local noun mismatch in number (e.g., the apple next to the pears) when nouns are planned in parallel than when they are planned in sequence. We used a speeded picture description task that yielded sentences such as the apple next to the pears is red. The objects mentioned in the noun phrase were either semantically related or unrelated. To induce agreement errors, pictures sometimes mismatched in number. In order to manipulate the likelihood of parallel processing of the objects and to test the hypothesized relationship between parallel processing and the rate of agreement errors, the pictures were either placed close together or far apart. Analyses of the participants' eye movements and speech onset latencies indicated slower processing of the first object and stronger interference from the related (compared to the unrelated) second object in the close than in the far condition. Analyses of the agreement errors yielded an attraction effect, with more errors in mismatching than in matching conditions. However, the magnitude of the attraction effect did not differ across the close and far conditions. Thus, spatial proximity encouraged parallel processing of the pictures, which led to interference of the associated conceptual and/or lexical representation, but, contrary to the prediction, it did not lead to more attraction errors.
  • Chu, M., Meyer, A. S., Foulkes, L., & Kita, S. (2014). Individual differences in frequency and saliency of speech-accompanying gestures: The role of cognitive abilities and empathy. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143, 694-709. doi:10.1037/a0033861.

    Abstract

    The present study concerns individual differences in gesture production. We used correlational and multiple regression analyses to examine the relationship between individuals’ cognitive abilities and empathy levels and their gesture frequency and saliency. We chose predictor variables according to experimental evidence of the functions of gesture in speech production and communication. We examined 3 types of gestures: representational gestures, conduit gestures, and palm-revealing gestures. Higher frequency of representational gestures was related to poorer visual and spatial working memory, spatial transformation ability, and conceptualization ability; higher frequency of conduit gestures was related to poorer visual working memory, conceptualization ability, and higher levels of empathy; and higher frequency of palm-revealing gestures was related to higher levels of empathy. The saliency of all gestures was positively related to level of empathy. These results demonstrate that cognitive abilities and empathy levels are related to individual differences in gesture frequency and saliency
  • Konopka, A. E., & Meyer, A. S. (2014). Priming sentence planning. Cognitive Psychology, 73, 1-40. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2014.04.001.

    Abstract

    Sentence production requires mapping preverbal messages onto linguistic structures. Because sentences are normally built incrementally, the information encoded in a sentence-initial increment is critical for explaining how the mapping process starts and for predicting its timecourse. Two experiments tested whether and when speakers prioritize encoding of different types of information at the outset of formulation by comparing production of descriptions of transitive events (e.g., A dog is chasing the mailman) that differed on two dimensions: the ease of naming individual characters and the ease of apprehending the event gist (i.e., encoding the relational structure of the event). To additionally manipulate ease of encoding, speakers described the target events after receiving lexical primes (facilitating naming; Experiment 1) or structural primes (facilitating generation of a linguistic structure; Experiment 2). Both properties of the pictured events and both types of primes influenced the form of target descriptions and the timecourse of formulation: character-specific variables increased the probability of speakers encoding one character with priority at the outset of formulation, while the ease of encoding event gist and of generating a syntactic structure increased the likelihood of early encoding of information about both characters. The results show that formulation is flexible and highlight some of the conditions under which speakers might employ different planning strategies.
  • Shao, Z., Roelofs, A., & Meyer, A. S. (2014). Predicting naming latencies for action pictures: Dutch norms. Behavior Research Methods, 46, 274-283. doi:10.3758/s13428-013-0358-6.

    Abstract

    The present study provides Dutch norms for age of acquisition, familiarity, imageability, image agreement, visual complexity, word frequency, and word length (in syllables) for 124 line drawings of actions. Ratings were obtained from 117 Dutch participants. Word frequency was determined on the basis of the SUBTLEX-NL corpus (Keuleers, Brysbaert, & New, Behavior Research Methods, 42, 643–650, 2010). For 104 of the pictures, naming latencies and name agreement were determined in a separate naming experiment with 74 native speakers of Dutch. The Dutch norms closely corresponded to the norms for British English. Multiple regression analysis showed that age of acquisition, imageability, image agreement, visual complexity, and name agreement were significant predictors of naming latencies, whereas word frequency and word length were not. Combined with the results of a principal-component analysis, these findings suggest that variables influencing the processes of conceptual preparation and lexical selection affect latencies more strongly than do variables influencing word-form encoding.

    Supplementary material

    Shao_Behav_Res_2013_Suppl_Mat.doc
  • Shao, Z., Roelofs, A., Acheson, D. J., & Meyer, A. S. (2014). Electrophysiological evidence that inhibition supports lexical selection in picture naming. Brain Research, 1586, 130-142. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2014.07.009.

    Abstract

    We investigated the neural basis of inhibitory control during lexical selection. Participants overtly named pictures while response times (RTs) and event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were recorded. The difficulty of lexical selection was manipulated by using object and action pictures with high name agreement (few response candidates) versus low name agreement (many response candidates). To assess the involvement of inhibition, we conducted delta plot analyses of naming RTs and examined the N2 component of the ERP. We found longer mean naming RTs and a larger N2 amplitude in the low relative to the high name agreement condition. For action naming we found a negative correlation between the slopes of the slowest delta segment and the difference in N2 amplitude between the low and high name agreement conditions. The converging behavioral and electrophysiological evidence suggests that selective inhibition is engaged to reduce competition during lexical selection in picture naming.
  • Shao, Z., Janse, E., Visser, K., & Meyer, A. S. (2014). What do verbal fluency tasks measure? Predictors of verbal fluency performance in older adults. Frontiers in Psychology, 5: 772. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00772.

    Abstract

    This study examined the contributions of verbal ability and executive control to verbal fluency performance in older adults (n=82). Verbal fluency was assessed in letter and category fluency tasks, and performance on these tasks was related to indicators of vocabulary size, lexical access speed, updating, and inhibition ability. In regression analyses the number of words produced in both fluency tasks was predicted by updating ability, and the speed of the first response was predicted by vocabulary size and, for category fluency only, lexical access speed. These results highlight the hybrid character of both fluency tasks, which may limit their usefulness for research and clinical purposes.
  • Van de Velde, M., Meyer, A. S., & Konopka, A. E. (2014). Message formulation and structural assembly: Describing "easy" and "hard" events with preferred and dispreferred syntactic structures. Journal of Memory and Language, 71(1), 124-144. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2013.11.001.

    Abstract

    When formulating simple sentences to describe pictured events, speakers look at the referents they are describing in the order of mention. Accounts of incrementality in sentence production rely heavily on analyses of this gaze-speech link. To identify systematic sources of variability in message and sentence formulation, two experiments evaluated differences in formulation for sentences describing “easy” and “hard” events (more codable and less codable events) with preferred and dispreferred structures (actives and passives). Experiment 1 employed a subliminal cuing manipulation and a cumulative priming manipulation to increase production of passive sentences. Experiment 2 examined the influence of event codability on formulation without a cuing manipulation. In both experiments, speakers showed an early preference for looking at the agent of the event when constructing active sentences. This preference was attenuated by event codability, suggesting that speakers were less likely to prioritize encoding of a single character at the outset of formulation in “easy” events than in “harder” events. Accessibility of the agent influenced formulation primarily when an event was “harder” to describe. Formulation of passive sentences in Experiment 1 also began with early fixations to the agent but changed with exposure to passive syntax: speakers were more likely to consider the patient as a suitable sentential starting point after cumulative priming. The results show that the message-to-language mapping in production can vary with the ease of encoding an event structure and of generating a suitable linguistic structure.
  • Van de Velde, M., & Meyer, A. S. (2014). Syntactic flexibility and planning scope: The effect of verb bias on advance planning during sentence recall. Frontiers in Psychology, 5: 1174. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01174.

    Abstract

    In sentence production, grammatical advance planning scope depends on contextual factors (e.g., time pressure), linguistic factors (e.g., ease of structural processing), and cognitive factors (e.g., production speed). The present study tests the influence of the availability of multiple syntactic alternatives (i.e., syntactic flexibility) on the scope of advance planning during the recall of Dutch dative phrases. We manipulated syntactic flexibility by using verbs with a strong bias or a weak bias toward one structural alternative in sentence frames accepting both verbs (e.g., strong/weak bias: De ober schotelt/serveert de klant de maaltijd [voor] “The waiter dishes out/serves the customer the meal”). To assess lexical planning scope, we varied the frequency of the first post-verbal noun (N1, Experiment 1) or the second post-verbal noun (N2, Experiment 2). In each experiment, 36 speakers produced the verb phrases in a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) paradigm. On each trial, they read a sentence presented one word at a time, performed a short distractor task, and then saw a sentence preamble (e.g., De ober…) which they had to complete to form the presented sentence. Onset latencies were compared using linear mixed effects models. N1 frequency did not produce any effects. N2 frequency only affected sentence onsets in the weak verb bias condition and especially in slow speakers. These findings highlight the dependency of planning scope during sentence recall on the grammatical properties of the verb and the frequency of post-verbal nouns. Implications for utterance planning in everyday speech are discussed.
  • Veenstra, A., Acheson, D. J., & Meyer, A. S. (2014). Keeping it simple: Studying grammatical encoding with lexically-reduced item sets. Frontiers in Psychology, 5: 783. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00783.

    Abstract

    Compared to the large body of work on lexical access, little research has been done on grammatical encoding in language production. An exception is the generation of subject-verb agreement. Here, two key findings have been reported: (1) Speakers make more agreement errors when the head and local noun of a phrase mismatch in number than when they match (e.g., the key to the cabinet(s)); and (2) this attraction effect is asymmetric, with stronger attraction for singular than for plural head nouns. Although these findings are robust, the cognitive processes leading to agreement errors and their significance for the generation of correct agreement are not fully understood. We propose that future studies of agreement, and grammatical encoding in general, may benefit from using paradigms that tightly control the variability of the lexical content of the material. We report two experiments illustrating this approach. In both of them, the experimental items featured combinations of four nouns, four color adjectives, and two prepositions. In Experiment 1, native speakers of Dutch described pictures in sentences such as the circle next to the stars is blue. In Experiment 2, they carried out a forced-choice task, where they read subject noun phrases (e.g., the circle next to the stars) and selected the correct verb-phrase (is blue or are blue) with a button press. Both experiments showed an attraction effect, with more errors after subject phrases with mismatching, compared to matching head and local nouns. This effect was stronger for singular than plural heads, replicating the attraction asymmetry. In contrast, the response times recorded in Experiment 2 showed similar attraction effects for singular and plural head nouns. These results demonstrate that critical agreement phenomena can be elicited reliably in lexically-reduced contexts. We discuss the theoretical implications of the findings and the potential and limitations of studies using lexically simple materials.
  • Veenstra, A., Acheson, D. J., Bock, K., & Meyer, A. S. (2014). Effects of semantic integration on subject–verb agreement: Evidence from Dutch. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 29(3), 355-380. doi:10.1080/01690965.2013.862284.

    Abstract

    The generation of subject–verb agreement is a central component of grammatical encoding. It is sensitive to conceptual and grammatical influences, but the interplay between these factors is still not fully understood. We investigate how semantic integration of the subject noun phrase (‘the secretary of/with the governor’) and the Local Noun Number (‘the secretary with the governor/governors’) affect the ease of selecting the verb form. Two hypotheses are assessed: according to the notional hypothesis, integration encourages the assignment of the singular notional number to the noun phrase and facilitates the choice of the singular verb form. According to the lexical interference hypothesis, integration strengthens the competition between nouns within the subject phrase, making it harder to select the verb form when the nouns mismatch in number. In two experiments, adult speakers of Dutch completed spoken preambles (Experiment 1) or selected appropriate verb forms (Experiment 2). Results showed facilitatory effects of semantic integration (fewer errors and faster responses with increasing integration). These effects did not interact with the effects of the Local Noun Number (slower response times and higher error rates for mismatching than for matching noun numbers). The findings thus support the notional hypothesis and a model of agreement where conceptual and lexical factors independently contribute to the determination of the number of the subject noun phrase and, ultimately, the verb.
  • Clifton, C. J., Meyer, A. S., Wurm, L. H., & Treiman, R. (2013). Language comprehension and production. In A. F. Healy, & R. W. Proctor (Eds.), Handbook of Psychology, Volume 4, Experimental Psychology. 2nd Edition (pp. 523-547). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

    Abstract

    In this chapter, we survey the processes of recognizing and producing words and of understanding and creating sentences. Theory and research on these topics have been shaped by debates about how various sources of information are integrated in these processes, and about the role of language structure, as analyzed in the discipline of linguistics. In this chapter, we describe current views of fluent language users' comprehension of spoken and written language and their production of spoken language. We review what we consider to be the most important findings and theories in psycholinguistics, returning again and again to the questions of modularity and the importance of linguistic knowledge. Although we acknowledge the importance of social factors in language use, our focus is on core processes such as parsing and word retrieval that are not necessarily affected by such factors. We do not have space to say much about the important fields of developmental psycholinguistics, which deals with the acquisition of language by children, or applied psycholinguistics, which encompasses such topics as language disorders and language teaching. Although we recognize that there is burgeoning interest in the measurement of brain activity during language processing and how language is represented in the brain, space permits only occasional pointers to work in neuropsychology and the cognitive neuroscience of language. For treatment of these topics, and others, the interested reader could begin with two recent handbooks of psycholinguistics (Gaskell, 2007; Traxler & Gemsbacher, 2006) and a handbook of cognitive neuroscience (Gazzaniga, 2004).
  • Ganushchak, L. Y., Krott, A., Frisson, S., & Meyer, A. S. (2013). Processing words and Short Message Service shortcuts in sentential contexts: An eye movement study. Applied Psycholinguistics, 34, 163-179. doi:10.1017/S0142716411000658.

    Abstract

    The present study investigated whether Short Message Service shortcuts are more difficult to process in sentence context than the spelled-out word equivalent and, if so, how any additional processing difficulty arises. Twenty-four student participants read 37 Short Message Service shortcuts and word equivalents embedded in semantically plausible and implausible contexts (e.g., He left/drank u/you a note) while their eye movements were recorded. There were effects of plausibility and spelling on early measures of processing difficulty (first fixation durations, gaze durations, skipping, and first-pass regression rates for the targets), but there were no interactions of plausibility and spelling. Late measures of processing difficulty (second run gaze duration and total fixation duration) were only affected by plausibility but not by spelling. These results suggest that shortcuts are harder to recognize, but that, once recognized, they are integrated into the sentence context as easily as ordinary words.
  • Hagoort, P., & Meyer, A. S. (2013). What belongs together goes together: the speaker-hearer perspective. A commentary on MacDonald's PDC account. Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 228. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00228.

    Abstract

    First paragraph: MacDonald (2013) proposes that distributional properties of language and processing biases in language comprehension can to a large extent be attributed to consequences of the language production process. In essence, the account is derived from the principle of least effort that was formulated by Zipf, among others (Zipf, 1949; Levelt, 2013). However, in Zipf's view the outcome of the least effort principle was a compromise between least effort for the speaker and least effort for the listener, whereas MacDonald puts most of the burden on the production process.
  • Meyer, A. S., & Hagoort, P. (2013). What does it mean to predict one's own utterances? [Commentary on Pickering & Garrod]. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36, 367-368. doi:10.1017/S0140525X12002786.

    Abstract

    Many authors have recently highlighted the importance of prediction for language comprehension. Pickering & Garrod (P&G) are the first to propose a central role for prediction in language production. This is an intriguing idea, but it is not clear what it means for speakers to predict their own utterances, and how prediction during production can be empirically distinguished from production proper.
  • Rommers, J., Meyer, A. S., & Huettig, F. (2013). Object shape and orientation do not routinely influence performance during language processing. Psychological Science, 24, 2218-2225. doi:10.1177/0956797613490746.

    Abstract

    The role of visual representations during language processing remains unclear: They could be activated as a necessary part of the comprehension process, or they could be less crucial and influence performance in a task-dependent manner. In the present experiments, participants read sentences about an object. The sentences implied that the object had a specific shape or orientation. They then either named a picture of that object (Experiments 1 and 3) or decided whether the object had been mentioned in the sentence (Experiment 2). Orientation information did not reliably influence performance in any of the experiments. Shape representations influenced performance most strongly when participants were asked to compare a sentence with a picture or when they were explicitly asked to use mental imagery while reading the sentences. Thus, in contrast to previous claims, implied visual information often does not contribute substantially to the comprehension process during normal reading.

    Supplementary material

    DS_10.1177_0956797613490746.pdf
  • Rommers, J., Meyer, A. S., Praamstra, P., & Huettig, F. (2013). The contents of predictions in sentence comprehension: Activation of the shape of objects before they are referred to. Neuropsychologia, 51(3), 437-447. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.12.002.

    Abstract

    When comprehending concrete words, listeners and readers can activate specific visual information such as the shape of the words’ referents. In two experiments we examined whether such information can be activated in an anticipatory fashion. In Experiment 1, listeners’ eye movements were tracked while they were listening to sentences that were predictive of a specific critical word (e.g., “moon” in “In 1969 Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon”). 500 ms before the acoustic onset of the critical word, participants were shown four-object displays featuring three unrelated distractor objects and a critical object, which was either the target object (e.g., moon), an object with a similar shape (e.g., tomato), or an unrelated control object (e.g., rice). In a time window before shape information from the spoken target word could be retrieved, participants already tended to fixate both the target and the shape competitors more often than they fixated the control objects, indicating that they had anticipatorily activated the shape of the upcoming word's referent. This was confirmed in Experiment 2, which was an ERP experiment without picture displays. Participants listened to the same lead-in sentences as in Experiment 1. The sentence-final words corresponded to the predictable target, the shape competitor, or the unrelated control object (yielding, for instance, “In 1969 Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon/tomato/rice”). N400 amplitude in response to the final words was significantly attenuated in the shape-related compared to the unrelated condition. Taken together, these results suggest that listeners can activate perceptual attributes of objects before they are referred to in an utterance.
  • Shao, Z., Meyer, A. S., & Roelofs, A. (2013). Selective and nonselective inhibition of competitors in picture naming. Memory & Cognition, 41(8), 1200-1211. doi:10.3758/s13421-013-0332-7.

    Abstract

    The present study examined the relation between nonselective inhibition and selective inhibition in picture naming performance. Nonselective inhibition refers to the ability to suppress any unwanted response, whereas selective inhibition refers to the ability to suppress specific competing responses. The degree of competition in picture naming was manipulated by presenting targets along with distractor words that could be semantically related (e.g., a picture of a dog combined with the word cat) or unrelated (tree) to the picture name. The mean naming response time (RT) was longer in the related than in the unrelated condition, reflecting semantic interference. Delta plot analyses showed that participants with small mean semantic interference effects employed selective inhibition more effectively than did participants with larger semantic interference effects. The participants were also tested on the stop-signal task, which taps nonselective inhibition. Their performance on this task was correlated with their mean naming RT but, importantly, not with the selective inhibition indexed by the delta plot analyses and the magnitude of the semantic interference effect. These results indicate that nonselective inhibition ability and selective inhibition of competitors in picture naming are separable to some extent.
  • Ganushchak, L. Y., Krott, A., & Meyer, A. S. (2012). From gr8 to great: Lexical access to SMS shortcuts. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 150. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00150.

    Abstract

    Many contemporary texts include shortcuts, such as cu or phones4u. The aim of this study was to investigate how the meanings of shortcuts are retrieved. A primed lexical decision paradigm was used with shortcuts and the corresponding words as primes. The target word was associatively related to the meaning of the whole prime (cu/see you – goodbye), to a component of the prime (cu/see you – look), or unrelated to the prime. In Experiment 1, primes were presented for 57 ms. For both word and shortcut primes, responses were faster to targets preceded by whole-related than by unrelated primes. No priming from component-related primes was found. In Experiment 2, the prime duration was 1000 ms. The priming effect seen in Experiment 1 was replicated. Additionally, there was priming from component-related word primes, but not from component-related shortcut primes. These results indicate that the meanings of shortcuts can be retrieved without translating them first into corresponding words.
  • Lesage, E., Morgan, B. E., Olson, A. C., Meyer, A. S., & Miall, R. C. (2012). Cerebellar rTMS disrupts predictive language processing. Current Biology, 22, R794-R795. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.07.006.

    Abstract

    The human cerebellum plays an important role in language, amongst other cognitive and motor functions [1], but a unifying theoretical framework about cerebellar language function is lacking. In an established model of motor control, the cerebellum is seen as a predictive machine, making short-term estimations about the outcome of motor commands. This allows for flexible control, on-line correction, and coordination of movements [2]. The homogeneous cytoarchitecture of the cerebellar cortex suggests that similar computations occur throughout the structure, operating on different input signals and with different output targets [3]. Several authors have therefore argued that this ‘motor’ model may extend to cerebellar nonmotor functions [3], [4] and [5], and that the cerebellum may support prediction in language processing [6]. However, this hypothesis has never been directly tested. Here, we used the ‘Visual World’ paradigm [7], where on-line processing of spoken sentence content can be assessed by recording the latencies of listeners' eye movements towards objects mentioned. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) was used to disrupt function in the right cerebellum, a region implicated in language [8]. After cerebellar rTMS, listeners showed delayed eye fixations to target objects predicted by sentence content, while there was no effect on eye fixations in sentences without predictable content. The prediction deficit was absent in two control groups. Our findings support the hypothesis that computational operations performed by the cerebellum may support prediction during both motor control and language processing.

    Supplementary material

    Lesage_Suppl_Information.pdf
  • Meyer, A. S., Wheeldon, L. R., Van der Meulen, F., & Konopka, A. E. (2012). Effects of speech rate and practice on the allocation of visual attention in multiple object naming. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 39. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00039.

    Abstract

    Earlier studies had shown that speakers naming several objects typically look at each object until they have retrieved the phonological form of its name and therefore look longer at objects with long names than at objects with shorter names. We examined whether this tight eye-to-speech coordination was maintained at different speech rates and after increasing amounts of practice. Participants named the same set of objects with monosyllabic or disyllabic names on up to 20 successive trials. In Experiment 1, they spoke as fast as they could, whereas in Experiment 2 they had to maintain a fixed moderate or faster speech rate. In both experiments, the durations of the gazes to the objects decreased with increasing speech rate, indicating that at higher speech rates, the speakers spent less time planning the object names. The eye-speech lag (the time interval between the shift of gaze away from an object and the onset of its name) was independent of the speech rate but became shorter with increasing practice. Consistent word length effects on the durations of the gazes to the objects and the eye speech lags were only found in Experiment 2. The results indicate that shifts of eye gaze are often linked to the completion of phonological encoding, but that speakers can deviate from this default coordination of eye gaze and speech, for instance when the descriptive task is easy and they aim to speak fast.
  • Roberts, L., & Meyer, A. S. (Eds.). (2012). Individual differences in second language acquisition [Special Issue]. Language Learning, 62(Supplement S2).
  • Roberts, L., & Meyer, A. S. (2012). Individual differences in second language learning: Introduction. Language Learning, 62(Supplement S2), 1-4. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9922.2012.00703.x.

    Abstract

    First paragraph: The topic of the workshop from which this volume comes, “Individual Differences in Second Language Learning,” is timely and important for both practical and theoretical reasons. The practical reasons are obvious: While many people have some knowledge of a second or further language, there is enormous variability in how well they know these languages. Much of this variability is, of course, likely to be due to differences in the time spent studying or being immersed in the language, but even in similar learning environments learners differ greatly in how quickly they pick up a language and in their ultimate level of proficiency.
  • Shao, Z., Roelofs, A., & Meyer, A. S. (2012). Sources of individual differences in the speed of naming objects and actions: The contribution of executive control. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 65, 1927-1944. doi:10.1080/17470218.2012.670252.

    Abstract

    We examined the contribution of executive control to individual differences in response time (RT) for naming objects and actions. Following Miyake, Friedman, Emerson, Witzki, Howerter, and Wager (2000), executive control was assumed to include updating, shifting, and inhibiting abilities, which were assessed using operation-span, task switching, and stop-signal tasks, respectively. Study 1 showed that updating ability was significantly correlated with the mean RT of action naming, but not of object naming. This finding was replicated in Study 2 using a larger stimulus set. Inhibiting ability was significantly correlated with the mean RT of both action and object naming, whereas shifting ability was not correlated with the mean naming RTs. Ex-Gaussian analyses of the RT distributions revealed that updating ability was correlated with the distribution tail of both action and object naming, whereas inhibiting ability was correlated with the leading edge of the distribution for action naming and the tail for object naming. Shifting ability provided no independent contribution. These results indicate that the executive control abilities of updating and inhibiting contribute to the speed of naming objects and actions, although there are differences in the way and extent these abilities are involved.
  • Huettig, F., Rommers, J., & Meyer, A. S. (2011). Using the visual world paradigm to study language processing: A review and critical evaluation. Acta Psychologica, 137, 151-171. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2010.11.003.

    Abstract

    We describe the key features of the visual world paradigm and review the main research areas where it has been used. In our discussion we highlight that the paradigm provides information about the way language users integrate linguistic information with information derived from the visual environment. Therefore the paradigm is well suited to study one of the key issues of current cognitive psychology, namely the interplay between linguistic and visual information processing. However, conclusions about linguistic processing (e.g., about activation, competition, and timing of access of linguistic representations) in the absence of relevant visual information must be drawn with caution.
  • Vuong, L., Meyer, A. S., & Christiansen, M. H. (2011). Simultaneous online tracking of adjacent and non-adjacent dependencies in statistical learning. In L. Carlson, C. Hölscher, & T. Shipley (Eds.), Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 964-969). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
  • Ganushchak, L. Y., Krott, A., & Meyer, A. S. (2010). Is it a letter? Is it a number? Processing of numbers within SMS shortcuts. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17, 101-105. doi:10.3758/PBR.17.1.101.

    Abstract

    For efficiency reasons, words in electronic messages are sometimes formed by combining letters with numbers, as in gr8 for “great.” The aim of this study was to investigate whether a digit incorporated into a letter—digit shortcut would retain its numerosity. A priming paradigm was used with letter—digit shortcuts (e.g., gr8) and matched pseudoshortcuts (e.g., qr8) as primes. The primes were presented simultaneously with sets of dots (targets) for which even/odd decisions were required, or they appeared 250 msec before target onset. When pseudoshortcuts were presented, decision latencies were shorter when the target and the digit in the prime were matched in parity than when they were mismatched. This main effect of match was not significant for shortcuts. The results suggest that the number concepts of digits combined with letters become activated but are quickly suppressed or deactivated when the digit is part of an existing shortcut.
  • Ganushchak, L. Y., Krott, A., & Meyer, A. S. (2010). Electroencephalographic responses to SMS shortcuts. Brain Research, 1348, 120-127. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2010.06.026.

    Abstract

    As the popularity of sending messages electronically increases, so does the necessity of conveying messages more efficiently. One way of increasing efficiency is to abbreviate words and expressions by combining letters with numbers such as gr8 for “great,” using acronyms, such as lol for “laughing out loud,” or clippings such as msg for “message.” The present study compares the processing of shortcuts to the processing of closely matched pseudo-shortcuts. ERPs were recorded while participants were performing a lexical decision task. Response times showed that shortcuts were categorized more slowly as nonwords than pseudo-shortcuts. The ERP results showed no differences between shortcuts and pseudo-shortcuts at time windows 50–150 ms and 150–270 ms, but there were significant differences between 270 and 500 ms. These results suggest that at early stages of word recognition, the orthographic and phonological processing is similar for shortcuts and pseudo-shortcuts. However, at the time of lexical access, shortcuts diverge from pseudo-shortcuts, suggesting that shortcuts activate stored lexical representations.
  • Malpass, D., & Meyer, A. S. (2010). The time course of name retrieval during multiple-object naming: Evidence from extrafoveal-on-foveal effects. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 36, 523-537. doi:10.1037/a0018522.

    Abstract

    The goal of the study was to examine whether speakers naming pairs of objects would retrieve the names of the objects in parallel or in equence. To this end, we recorded the speakers’ eye movements and determined whether the difficulty of retrieving the name of the 2nd object affected the duration of the gazes to the 1st object. Two experiments, which differed in the spatial arrangement of the objects, showed that the speakers looked longer at the 1st object when the name of the 2nd object was easy than when it was more difficult to retrieve. Thus, the easy 2nd-object names interfered more with the processing of the 1st object than the more difficult 2nd-object names. In the 3rd experiment, the processing of the 1st object was rendered more difficult by presenting it upside down. No effect of 2nd-object difficulty on the gaze duration for the 1st object was found. These results suggest that speakers can retrieve the names of a foveated and an extrafoveal object in parallel, provided that the processing of the foveated object is not too demanding
  • Telling, A. L., Meyer, A. S., & Humphreys, G. W. (2010). Distracted by relatives: Effects of frontal lobe damage on semantic distraction. Brain and Cognition, 73, 203-214. doi:10.1016/j.bandc.2010.05.004.

    Abstract

    When young adults carry out visual search, distractors that are semantically related, rather than unrelated, to targets can disrupt target selection (see [Belke et al., 2008] and [Moores et al., 2003]). This effect is apparent on the first eye movements in search, suggesting that attention is sometimes captured by related distractors. Here we assessed effects of semantically related distractors on search in patients with frontal-lobe lesions and compared them to the effects in age-matched controls. Compared with the controls, the patients were less likely to make a first saccade to the target and they were more likely to saccade to distractors (whether related or unrelated to the target). This suggests a deficit in a first stage of selecting a potential target for attention. In addition, the patients made more errors by responding to semantically related distractors on target-absent trials. This indicates a problem at a second stage of target verification, after items have been attended. The data suggest that frontal lobe damage disrupts both the ability to use peripheral information to guide attention, and the ability to keep separate the target of search from the related items, on occasions when related items achieve selection.
  • Telling, A. L., Kumar, S., Meyer, A. S., & Humphreys, G. W. (2010). Electrophysiological evidence of semantic interference in visual search. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22(10), 2212-2225. doi:10.1162/jocn.2009.21348.

    Abstract

    Visual evoked responses were monitored while participants searched for a target (e.g., bird) in a four-object display that could include a semantically related distractor (e.g., fish). The occurrence of both the target and the semantically related distractor modulated the N2pc response to the search display: The N2pc amplitude was more pronounced when the target and the distractor appeared in the same visual field, and it was less pronounced when the target and the distractor were in opposite fields, relative to when the distractor was absent. Earlier components (P1, N1) did not show any differences in activity across the different distractor conditions. The data suggest that semantic distractors influence early stages of selecting stimuli in multielement displays.
  • Belke, E., Humphreys, G. W., Watson, D. G., Meyer, A. S., & Telling, A. L. (2008). Top-down effects of semantic knowledge in visual search are modulated by cognitive but not perceptual load. Perception & Psychophysics, 70, 1444-1458. doi:10.3758/PP.70.8.1444.

    Abstract

    Moores, Laiti, and Chelazzi (2003) found semantic interference from associate competitors during visual object search, demonstrating the existence of top-down semantic influences on the deployment of attention to objects. We examined whether effects of semantically related competitors (same-category members or associates) interacted with the effects of perceptual or cognitive load. We failed to find any interaction between competitor effects and perceptual load. However, the competitor effects increased significantly when participants were asked to retain one or five digits in memory throughout the search task. Analyses of eye movements and viewing times showed that a cognitive load did not affect the initial allocation of attention but rather the time it took participants to accept or reject an object as the target. We discuss the implications of our findings for theories of conceptual short-term memory and visual attention.
  • Cook, A. E., & Meyer, A. S. (2008). Capacity demands of phoneme selection in word production: New evidence from dual-task experiments. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 34, 886-899. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.34.4.886.

    Abstract

    Three dual-task experiments investigated the capacity demands of phoneme selection in picture naming. On each trial, participants named a target picture (Task 1) and carried out a tone discrimination task (Task 2). To vary the time required for phoneme selection, the authors combined the targets with phonologically related or unrelated distractor pictures (Experiment 1) or words, which were clearly visible (Experiment 2) or masked (Experiment 3). When pictures or masked words were presented, the tone discrimination and picture naming latencies were shorter in the related condition than in the unrelated condition, which indicates that phoneme selection requires central processing capacity. However, when the distractor words were clearly visible, the facilitatory effect was confined to the picture naming latencies. This pattern arose because the visible related distractor words facilitated phoneme selection but slowed down speech monitoring processes that had to be completed before the response to the tone could be selected.
  • Meyer, A. S., Ouellet, M., & Häcker, C. (2008). Parallel processing of objects in a naming task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 34, 982-987. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.34.4.982.

    Abstract

    The authors investigated whether speakers who named several objects processed them sequentially or in parallel. Speakers named object triplets, arranged in a triangle, in the order left, right, and bottom object. The left object was easy or difficult to identify and name. During the saccade from the left to the right object, the right object shown at trial onset (the interloper) was replaced by a new object (the target), which the speakers named. Interloper and target were identical or unrelated objects, or they were conceptually unrelated objects with the same name (e.g., bat [animal] and [baseball] bat). The mean duration of the gazes to the target was shorter when interloper and target were identical or had the same name than when they were unrelated. The facilitatory effects of identical and homophonous interlopers were significantly larger when the left object was easy to process than when it was difficult to process. This interaction demonstrates that the speakers processed the left and right objects in parallel.

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