The multimodal facilitation effect in human communication

Drijvers, L., & Holler, J. (2023). The multimodal facilitation effect in human communication. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 30(2), 792-801. doi:10.3758/s13423-022-02178-x.
During face-to-face communication, recipients need to rapidly integrate a plethora of auditory and visual signals. This integration of signals from many different bodily articulators, all offset in time, with the information in the speech stream may either tax the cognitive system, thus slowing down language processing, or may result in multimodal facilitation. Using the classical shadowing paradigm, participants shadowed speech from face-to-face, naturalistic dyadic conversations in an audiovisual context, an audiovisual context without visual speech (e.g., lips), and an audio-only context. Our results provide evidence of a multimodal facilitation effect in human communication: participants were faster in shadowing words when seeing multimodal messages compared with when hearing only audio. Also, the more visual context was present, the fewer shadowing errors were made, and the earlier in time participants shadowed predicted lexical items. We propose that the multimodal facilitation effect may contribute to the ease of fast face-to-face conversational interaction.
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