Dual-tasking with simple linguistic tasks: Evidence for serial processing

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.
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.
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