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Cogn Psychol. 2015 Jun;79:68-101. doi: 10.1016/j.cogpsych.2015.04.001. Epub 2015 May 1.

Single-word predictions of upcoming language during comprehension: Evidence from the cumulative semantic interference task.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0109, USA. Electronic address: kleinman@gmail.com.
2
Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive, UMR 7290, CNRS & Aix-Marseille Université, 3 place Victor Hugo, 13331 Marseille CEDEX 3, France. Electronic address: elin_runnquist@yahoo.es.
3
Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0109, USA. Electronic address: vferreira@ucsd.edu.

Abstract

Comprehenders predict upcoming speech and text on the basis of linguistic input. How many predictions do comprehenders make for an upcoming word? If a listener strongly expects to hear the word "sock", is the word "shirt" partially expected as well, is it actively inhibited, or is it ignored? The present research addressed these questions by measuring the "downstream" effects of prediction on the processing of subsequently presented stimuli using the cumulative semantic interference paradigm. In three experiments, subjects named pictures (sock) that were presented either in isolation or after strongly constraining sentence frames ("After doing his laundry, Mark always seemed to be missing one…"). Naming sock slowed the subsequent naming of the picture shirt - the standard cumulative semantic interference effect. However, although picture naming was much faster after sentence frames, the interference effect was not modulated by the context (bare vs. sentence) in which either picture was presented. According to the only model of cumulative semantic interference that can account for such a pattern of data, this indicates that comprehenders pre-activated and maintained the pre-activation of best sentence completions (sock) but did not maintain the pre-activation of less likely completions (shirt). Thus, comprehenders predicted only the most probable completion for each sentence.

KEYWORDS:

Prediction; Semantic interference; Sentence comprehension; Speech production; Word retrieval

PMID:
25917550
PMCID:
PMC4457568
DOI:
10.1016/j.cogpsych.2015.04.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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