Usage-Based Individual Differences in the Probabilistic Processing of Multi-Word Sequences

McConnell, K., & Blumenthal-Dramé, A. (2021). Usage-Based Individual Differences in the Probabilistic Processing of Multi-Word Sequences. Frontiers in Communication, 6: 703351. doi:10.3389/fcomm.2021.703351.
While it is widely acknowledged that both predictive expectations and retrodictive
integration influence language processing, the individual differences that affect these
two processes and the best metrics for observing them have yet to be fully described.
The present study aims to contribute to the debate by investigating the extent to which
experienced-based variables modulate the processing of word pairs (bigrams).
Specifically, we investigate how age and reading experience correlate with lexical
anticipation and integration, and how this effect can be captured by the metrics of
forward and backward transition probability (TP). Participants read more and less
strongly associated bigrams, paired to control for known lexical covariates such as
bigram frequency and meaning (i.e., absolute control, total control, absolute silence,
total silence) in a self-paced reading (SPR) task. They additionally completed
assessments of exposure to print text (Author Recognition Test, Shipley vocabulary
assessment, Words that Go Together task) and provided their age. Results show that
both older age and lesser reading experience individually correlate with stronger TP
effects. Moreover, TP effects differ across the spillover region (the two words following
the noun in the bigram)
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