Publications by authors named "Matthew W Lowder"

22 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Processing of Self-Repairs in Stuttered and Non-Stuttered Speech.

Lang Cogn Neurosci 2020 26;35(1):93-105. Epub 2019 Jun 26.

Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis.

Previous research suggests that listeners can use the presence of speech disfluencies to predict upcoming linguistic input. But how is the processing of typical disfluencies affected when the speaker also produces atypical disfluencies, as in the case of stuttering? We addressed this question in a visual-world eye-tracking experiment in which participants heard self-repair disfluencies while viewing displays that contained a predictable target entity. Half the participants heard the sentences spoken by a speaker who stuttered, and half heard the sentences spoken by the same speaker who produced the sentences without stuttering. Results replicated previous work in demonstrating that listeners engage in robust predictive processing when hearing self-repair disfluencies. Crucially, the magnitude of the prediction effect was reduced when the speaker stuttered compared to when the speaker did not stutter. Overall, the results suggest that listeners' ability to model the production system of a speaker is disrupted when the speaker stutters.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23273798.2019.1628284DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7500508PMC
June 2019

Effects of contrastive focus on lexical predictability during sentence reading: The case of constructions.

Q J Exp Psychol (Hove) 2021 Jan 9;74(1):179-186. Epub 2020 Sep 9.

Department of Psychology, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA, USA.

Previous research suggests that language comprehenders are sensitive to the presence of focus-sensitive particles-words like and that are effective at marking the focus of the sentence. In addition to signalling linguistic focus, these words can also establish a semantic contrast between the focused element and an alternate set. For example, the phrase places linguistic focus on and may also prompt comprehenders to anticipate a set of upcoming entities that stand in semantic contrast to . We tested this possibility in an eyetracking-while-reading experiment that systematically crossed structure (focus vs. noun-phrase coordination) with predictability of an upcoming target noun (predictable vs. unpredictable). Whereas first-pass reading time showed a robust predictability effect for the coordination condition, the effect was eliminated for the focus condition. Later eyetracking measures revealed main effects of both predictability and syntactic structure. Overall, the results suggest that language comprehenders rapidly make use of the cue and may use this cue to begin anticipating a set of upcoming sentence continuations during online sentence processing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1747021820949155DOI Listing
January 2021

Individual differences in reading: Separable effects of reading experience and processing skill.

Mem Cognit 2020 05;48(4):553-565

Department of Psychology, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA, USA.

A large-scale eye-tracking study examined individual variability in measures of word recognition during reading among 546 college students, focusing on two established individual-differences measures: the Author Recognition Test (ART) and Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN). ART and RAN were only slightly correlated, suggesting that the two tasks reflect independent cognitive abilities in this large sample of participants. Further, individual variability in ART and RAN scores were related to distinct facets of word-recognition processes. Higher ART scores were associated with increased skipping rates, shorter gaze duration, and reduced effects of word frequency on gaze duration, suggesting that this measure reflects efficiency of basic processes of word recognition during reading. In contrast, faster times on RAN were associated with enhanced foveal-on-parafoveal effects, fewer first-pass regressions, and shorter second-pass reading times, suggesting that this measure reflects efficient coordination of perceptual-motor and attentional processing during reading. These results demonstrate that ART and RAN tasks make independent contributions to predicting variability in word-recognition processes during reading.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13421-019-00989-3DOI Listing
May 2020

I see what you meant to say: Anticipating speech errors during online sentence processing.

J Exp Psychol Gen 2019 Oct 17;148(10):1849-1858. Epub 2018 Dec 17.

Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis.

Everyday speech is rife with errors and disfluencies, yet processing what we hear usually feels effortless. How does the language comprehension system accomplish such an impressive feat? The current experiment tests the hypothesis that listeners draw on relevant contextual and linguistic cues to anticipate speech errors and mentally correct them, even before receiving an explicit correction from the speaker. In the current visual-world eye-tracking experiment, we monitored participants' eye movements to objects in a display while they listened to utterances containing reparandum-repair speech errors (e.g., . . . his cat, uh I mean his dog . . .). The contextual plausibility of the misspoken word and the certainty with which the speaker uttered this word were systematically manipulated. Results showed that listeners immediately exploited these cues to generate top-down expectations regarding the speaker's communicative intention. Crucially, listeners used these expectations to constrain the bottom-up speech input and mentally correct perceived speech errors, even before the speaker initiated the correction. The results provide powerful evidence regarding the joint process of correcting speech errors that involves both the speaker and the listener. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000544DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6579724PMC
October 2019

Development and assessment of the Korean Author Recognition Test.

Q J Exp Psychol (Hove) 2019 Jul 29;72(7):1837-1846. Epub 2018 Nov 29.

3 Department of Psychology, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA, USA.

This research reports the development and evaluation of a Korean Author Recognition Test (KART), designed as a measure of print exposure among young adults. Based on the original, English-language version of the Author Recognition Test (ART), the KART demonstrates significant relationships with offline measures of language ability, as well as online measures of word recognition. In particular, KART scores were related to participants' responses on the Comparative Reading Habits (CRH) checklist, suggesting that KART is a valid measure of print exposure. In addition, KART scores showed reliable correlations with offline measures of vocabulary knowledge and language comprehension. Finally, results from a lexical decision task showed that KART scores modulated the magnitude of the word familiarity effect, such that the effect was smaller for participants with higher KART scores The results suggest that the ART is a language-universal task that measures print exposure, which is useful for explaining individual differences in language comprehension abilities and word recognition processes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1747021818814461DOI Listing
July 2019

Lexical Predictability During Natural Reading: Effects of Surprisal and Entropy Reduction.

Cogn Sci 2018 06 14;42 Suppl 4:1166-1183. Epub 2018 Feb 14.

Department of Psychology and Center for Mind and Brain, University of California, Davis.

What are the effects of word-by-word predictability on sentence processing times during the natural reading of a text? Although information complexity metrics such as surprisal and entropy reduction have been useful in addressing this question, these metrics tend to be estimated using computational language models, which require some degree of commitment to a particular theory of language processing. Taking a different approach, this study implemented a large-scale cumulative cloze task to collect word-by-word predictability data for 40 passages and compute surprisal and entropy reduction values in a theory-neutral manner. A separate group of participants read the same texts while their eye movements were recorded. Results showed that increases in surprisal and entropy reduction were both associated with increases in reading times. Furthermore, these effects did not depend on the global difficulty of the text. The findings suggest that surprisal and entropy reduction independently contribute to variation in reading times, as these metrics seem to capture different aspects of lexical predictability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cogs.12597DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5988918PMC
June 2018

Effects of word predictability and preview lexicality on eye movements during reading: A comparison between young and older adults.

Psychol Aging 2017 05 23;32(3):232-242. Epub 2017 Mar 23.

Center for Mind and Brain, University of California.

Previous eye-tracking research has characterized older adults' reading patterns as "risky," arguing that compared to young adults, older adults skip more words, have longer saccades, and are more likely to regress to previous portions of the text. In the present eye-tracking study, we reexamined the claim that older adults adopt a risky reading strategy, utilizing the boundary paradigm to manipulate parafoveal preview and contextual predictability of a target word. Results showed that older adults had longer fixation durations compared to young adults; however, there were no age differences in skipping rates, saccade length, or proportion of regressions. In addition, readers showed higher skipping rates of the target word if the preview string was a word than if it was a nonword, regardless of age. Finally, the effect of predictability in reading times on the target word was larger for older adults than for young adults. These results suggest that older adults' reading strategies are not as risky as was previously claimed. Instead, we propose that older adults can effectively combine top-down information from the sentence context with bottom-up information from the parafovea to optimize their reading strategies. (PsycINFO Database Record
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pag0000160DOI Listing
May 2017

Print exposure modulates the effects of repetition priming during sentence reading.

Psychon Bull Rev 2017 Dec;24(6):1935-1942

Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

Individual readers vary greatly in the quality of their lexical representations, and consequently in how quickly and efficiently they can access orthographic and lexical knowledge. This variability may be explained, at least in part, by individual differences in exposure to printed language, because practice at reading promotes the development of stronger reading skills. In the present eyetracking experiment, we tested the hypothesis that the efficiency of word recognition during reading improves with increases in print exposure, by determining whether the magnitude of the repetition-priming effect is modulated by individual differences in scores on the author recognition test (ART). Lexical repetition of target words was manipulated across pairs of unrelated sentences that were presented on consecutive trials. The magnitude of the repetition effect was modulated by print exposure in early measures of processing, such that the magnitude of the effect was inversely related to scores on the ART. The results showed that low levels of print exposure, and thus lower-quality lexical representations, are associated with high levels of difficulty recognizing words, and thus with the greatest room to benefit from repetition. Furthermore, the interaction between scores on the ART and repetition suggests that print exposure is not simply an index of general reading speed, but rather that higher levels of print exposure are associated with an enhanced ability to access lexical knowledge and recognize words during reading.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13423-017-1248-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5565724PMC
December 2017

Language structure in the brain: A fixation-related fMRI study of syntactic surprisal in reading.

Neuroimage 2016 05 22;132:293-300. Epub 2016 Feb 22.

University of California, Davis, USA.

How is syntactic analysis implemented by the human brain during language comprehension? The current study combined methods from computational linguistics, eyetracking, and fMRI to address this question. Subjects read passages of text presented as paragraphs while their eye movements were recorded in an MRI scanner. We parsed the text using a probabilistic context-free grammar to isolate syntactic difficulty. Syntactic difficulty was quantified as syntactic surprisal, which is related to the expectedness of a given word's syntactic category given its preceding context. We compared words with high and low syntactic surprisal values that were equated for length, frequency, and lexical surprisal, and used fixation-related (FIRE) fMRI to measure neural activity associated with syntactic surprisal for each fixated word. We observed greater neural activity for high than low syntactic surprisal in two predicted cortical regions previously identified with syntax: left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and less robustly, left anterior superior temporal lobe (ATL). These results support the hypothesis that left IFG and ATL play a central role in syntactic analysis during language comprehension. More generally, the results suggest a broader cortical network associated with syntactic prediction that includes increased activity in bilateral IFG and insula, as well as fusiform and right lingual gyri.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.02.050DOI Listing
May 2016

Prediction in the Processing of Repair Disfluencies.

Lang Cogn Neurosci 2016 Jan 21;31(1):73-79. Epub 2015 Apr 21.

Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis.

Imagine a speaker who says "…" Before hearing the repair, the listener is likely to anticipate the word "" based on the context, including the reparandum "." Thus, even though the reparandum is not intended as part of the utterance, the listener uses it as information to predict the repair. The issue we explore in this article is how prediction operates in disfluency contexts. We begin by describing the Overlay model of disfluency comprehension, which assumes that the listener identifies a reparandum as such only after a repair is encountered which creates a local ungrammaticality. The Overlay model also allows the reparandum to influence subsequent processing, because the reparandum is not deleted from the final representation of the sentence. A somewhat different model can be developed which assumes a more active, anticipatory process for resolving repair disfluencies. On this model, the listener might predict the likely repair when the speaker becomes disfluent, or even identify a reparandum if the word or word string seems inconsistent with the speaker's intention. Our proposal is that the prediction can be made using the same mechanism involved in the processing of contrast, in which a listener uses contrastive prominence to generate likely alternates (the contrast set). We suggest that these two approaches to disfluency processing are not inconsistent: Successful repair processing requires listeners to use statistical and linguistic evidence to identify a reparandum and to integrate the repair, and the lingering of the reparandum is due to the coexistence in working memory of the reparandum, the repair, and unselected members of the contrast set.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23273798.2015.1036089DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4749026PMC
January 2016

Prediction in the processing of repair disfluencies: Evidence from the visual-world paradigm.

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 2016 09 11;42(9):1400-16. Epub 2016 Feb 11.

Department of Psychology.

Two visual-world eye-tracking experiments investigated the role of prediction in the processing of repair disfluencies (e.g., "The chef reached for some salt uh I mean some ketchup . . ."). Experiment 1 showed that listeners were more likely to fixate a critical distractor item (e.g., pepper) during the processing of repair disfluencies compared with the processing of coordination structures (e.g., ". . . some salt and also some ketchup . . ."). Experiment 2 replicated the findings of Experiment 1 for disfluency versus coordination constructions and also showed that the pattern of fixations to the critical distractor for disfluency constructions was similar to the fixation patterns for sentences employing contrastive focus (e.g., ". . . not some salt but rather some ketchup . . ."). The results suggest that similar mechanisms underlie the processing of repair disfluencies and contrastive focus, with listeners generating sets of entities that stand in semantic contrast to the reparandum in the case of disfluencies or the negated entity in the case of contrastive focus. (PsycINFO Database Record
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000256DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4981572PMC
September 2016

Eye-Tracking and Corpus-Based Analyses of Syntax-Semantics Interactions in Complement Coercion.

Lang Cogn Neurosci 2016 19;31(7):921-939. Epub 2016 May 19.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Previous work has shown that the difficulty associated with processing complex semantic expressions is reduced when the critical constituents appear in separate clauses as opposed to when they appear together in the same clause. We investigated this effect further, focusing in particular on complement coercion, in which an event-selecting verb (e.g., ) combines with a complement that represents an entity (e.g., ). Experiment 1 compared reading times for coercion versus control expressions when the critical verb and complement appeared together in a subject-extracted relative clause (SRC) (e.g., ) compared to when they appeared together in a simple sentence. Readers spent more time processing coercion expressions than control expressions, replicating the typical coercion cost. In addition, readers spent less time processing the verb and complement in SRCs than in simple sentences; however, the magnitude of the coercion cost did not depend on sentence structure. In contrast, Experiment 2 showed that the coercion cost was reduced when the complement appeared as the head of an object-extracted relative clause (ORC) (e.g., ) compared to when the constituents appeared together in an SRC. Consistent with the eye-tracking results of Experiment 2, a corpus analysis showed that expressions requiring complement coercion are more frequent when the constituents are separated by the clause boundary of an ORC compared to when they are embedded together within an SRC. The results provide important information about the types of structural configurations that contribute to reduced difficulty with complex semantic expressions, as well as how these processing patterns are reflected in naturally occurring language.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23273798.2016.1183798DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5435376PMC
May 2016

Individual differences in the perceptual span during reading: evidence from the moving window technique.

Atten Percept Psychophys 2015 Oct;77(7):2463-75

Center for Mind and Brain, University of California, Davis, CA, 95618, USA.

We report the results of an eye tracking experiment that used the gaze-contingent moving window technique to examine individual differences in the size of readers' perceptual span. Participants read paragraphs while the size of the rightward window of visible text was systematically manipulated across trials. In addition, participants completed a large battery of individual-difference measures representing two cognitive constructs: language ability and oculomotor processing speed. Results showed that higher scores on language ability measures and faster oculomotor processing speed were associated with faster reading times and shorter fixation durations. More interestingly, the size of readers' perceptual span was modulated by individual differences in language ability but not by individual differences in oculomotor processing speed, suggesting that readers with greater language proficiency are more likely to have efficient mechanisms to extract linguistic information beyond the fixated word.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13414-015-0942-1DOI Listing
October 2015

Focus takes time: structural effects on reading.

Psychon Bull Rev 2015 Dec;22(6):1733-8

Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

Previous eye-tracking work has yielded inconsistent evidence regarding whether readers spend more or less time encoding focused information compared with information that is not focused. We report the results of an eye-tracking experiment that used syntactic structure to manipulate whether a target word was linguistically defocused, neutral, or focused, while controlling for possible oculomotor differences across conditions. As the structure of the sentence made the target word increasingly more focused, reading times systematically increased. We propose that the longer reading times for linguistically focused words reflect deeper encoding, which explains previous findings showing that readers have better subsequent memory for focused versus defocused information.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13423-015-0843-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4641814PMC
December 2015

Natural forces as agents: reconceptualizing the animate-inanimate distinction.

Cognition 2015 Mar 8;136:85-90. Epub 2014 Dec 8.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599, United States.

Research spanning multiple domains of psychology has demonstrated preferential processing of animate as compared to inanimate entities--a pattern that is commonly explained as due to evolutionarily adaptive behavior. Forces of nature represent a class of entities that are semantically inanimate but which behave as if they are animate in that they possess the ability to initiate movement and cause actions. We report an eye-tracking experiment demonstrating that natural forces are processed like animate entities during online sentence processing: they are easier to integrate with action verbs than instruments, and this effect is mediated by sentence structure. The results suggest that many cognitive and linguistic phenomena that have previously been attributed to animacy may be more appropriately attributed to perceived agency. To the extent that this is so, the cognitive potency of animate entities may not be due to vigilant monitoring of the environment for unpredictable events as argued by evolutionary psychologists but instead may be more adequately explained as reflecting a cognitive and linguistic focus on causal explanations that is adaptive because it increases the predictability of events.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2014.11.021DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4308490PMC
March 2015

The manuscript that we finished: structural separation reduces the cost of complement coercion.

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 2015 Mar 7;41(2):526-40. Epub 2014 Jul 7.

Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Two eye-tracking experiments examined the effects of sentence structure on the processing of complement coercion, in which an event-selecting verb combines with a complement that represents an entity (e.g., began the memo). Previous work has demonstrated that these expressions impose a processing cost, which has been attributed to the need to type-shift the entity into an event in order for the sentence to be interpretable (e.g., began writing the memo). Both experiments showed that the magnitude of the coercion cost was reduced when the verb and complement appeared in separate clauses (e.g., The memo that was begun by the secretary; What the secretary began was the memo) compared with when the constituents appeared together in the same clause. The moderating effect of sentence structure on coercion is similar to effects that have been reported for the processing of 2 other types of semantically complex expressions (inanimate subject-verb integration and metonymy). We propose that sentence structure influences the depth at which complex semantic relationships are computed. When the constituents that create the need for a complex semantic interpretation appear in a single clause, readers experience processing difficulty stemming from the need to detect or resolve the semantic mismatch. In contrast, the need to engage in additional processing is reduced when the expression is established across a clause boundary or other structure that deemphasizes the complex relationship.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000042DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4286530PMC
March 2015

Effects of animacy and noun-phrase relatedness on the processing of complex sentences.

Mem Cognit 2014 Jul;42(5):794-805

Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB #3270, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599-3270, USA,

Previous work has suggested that syntactically complex object-extracted relative clauses are easier to process when the head noun phrase (NP1) is inanimate and the embedded noun phrase (NP2) is animate, as compared with the reverse animacy configuration, with differences in processing difficulty beginning as early as NP2 (e.g., The article that the senator . . . vs. The senator that the article . . .). Two eye-tracking-while-reading experiments were conducted to better understand the source of this effect. Experiment 1 showed that having an inanimate NP1 facilitated processing even when NP2 was held constant. Experiment 2 manipulated both animacy of NP1 and the degree of semantic relatedness between the critical NPs. When NP1 and NP2 were paired arbitrarily, the early animacy effect emerged at NP2. When NP1 and NP2 were semantically related, this effect disappeared, with effects of NP1 animacy emerging in later processing stages for both the related and arbitrary conditions. The results indicate that differences in the animacy of NP1 influence early processing of complex sentences only when the critical NPs share no meaningful relationship.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13421-013-0393-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4057946PMC
July 2014

It's hard to offend the college: effects of sentence structure on figurative-language processing.

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 2013 Jul 18;39(4):993-1011. Epub 2013 Feb 18.

Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3270, USA.

Previous research has given inconsistent evidence about whether familiar metonyms are more difficult to process than literal expressions. In 2 eye-tracking-while-reading experiments, we tested the hypothesis that the difficulty associated with processing metonyms would depend on sentence structure. Experiment 1 examined comprehension of familiar place-for-institution metonyms (e.g., college) when they were an argument of the main verb and showed that they are more difficult to process in a figurative context (e.g., offended the college) than in a literal context (e.g., photographed the college). Experiment 2 demonstrated that when they are arguments of the main verb, familiar metonyms are more difficult to process than frequency-and-length-matched nouns that refer to people (e.g., offended the leader), but that this difficulty was reduced when the metonym appeared as part of an adjunct phrase (e.g., offended the honor of the college). The results support the view that figurative-language processing is moderated by sentence structure. When the metonym was an argument of the verb, the results were consistent with the pattern predicted by the indirect-access model of figurative-language comprehension. In contrast, when the metonym was part of an adjunct phrase, the results were consistent with the pattern predicted by the direct-access model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0031671DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3714341PMC
July 2013

Word recognition during reading: the interaction between lexical repetition and frequency.

Mem Cognit 2013 Jul;41(5):738-51

Department of Psychology, CB#3270, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599-3270, USA.

Memory studies utilizing long-term repetition priming have generally demonstrated that priming is greater for low-frequency than for high-frequency words and that this effect persists if words intervene between the prime and the target. In contrast, word-recognition studies utilizing masked short-term repetition priming have typically shown that the magnitude of repetition priming does not differ as a function of word frequency and does not persist across intervening words. We conducted an eyetracking-while-reading experiment to determine which of these patterns more closely resembles the relationship between frequency and repetition during the natural reading of a text. Frequency was manipulated using proper names that were either high-frequency (e.g., Stephen) or low-frequency (e.g., Dominic). The critical name was later repeated in the sentence, or a new name was introduced. First-pass reading times and skipping rates on the critical name revealed robust repetition-by-frequency interactions, such that the magnitude of the repetition-priming effect was greater for low-frequency than for high-frequency names. In contrast, measures of later processing showed effects of repetition that did not depend on lexical frequency. These results are interpreted within a framework that conceptualizes eye-movement control as being influenced in different ways by lexical- and discourse-level factors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13421-012-0288-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3632652PMC
July 2013

The sentence-composition effect: processing of complex sentences depends on the configuration of common noun phrases versus unusual noun phrases.

J Exp Psychol Gen 2011 Nov;140(4):707-24

Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3270, USA.

In 2 experiments, the authors used an eye tracking while reading methodology to examine how different configurations of common noun phrases versus unusual noun phrases (NPs) influenced the difference in processing difficulty between sentences containing object- and subject-extracted relative clauses. Results showed that processing difficulty was reduced when the head NP was unusual relative to the embedded NP, as manipulated by lexical frequency. When both NPs were common or both were unusual, results showed strong effects of both commonness and sentence structure, but no interaction. In contrast, when 1 NP was common and the other was unusual, results showed the critical interaction. These results provide evidence for a sentence-composition effect analogous to the list-composition effect that has been well documented in memory research, in which the pattern of recall for common versus unusual items is different, depending on whether items are studied in a pure or mixed list context. This work represents an important step in integrating the list-memory and sentence-processing literatures and provides additional support for the usefulness of studying complex sentence processing from the perspective of memory-based models.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0024333DOI Listing
November 2011

Watching my mind unfold versus yours: an fMRI study using a novel camera technology to examine neural differences in self-projection of self versus other perspectives.

J Cogn Neurosci 2011 Jun 3;23(6):1275-84. Epub 2010 Jun 3.

Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA.

Self-projection, the capacity to re-experience the personal past and to mentally infer another person's perspective, has been linked to medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). In particular, ventral mPFC is associated with inferences about one's own self, whereas dorsal mPFC is associated with inferences about another individual. In the present fMRI study, we examined self-projection using a novel camera technology, which employs a sensor and timer to automatically take hundreds of photographs when worn, in order to create dynamic visuospatial cues taken from a first-person perspective. This allowed us to ask participants to self-project into the personal past or into the life of another person. We predicted that self-projection to the personal past would elicit greater activity in ventral mPFC, whereas self-projection of another perspective would rely on dorsal mPFC. There were three main findings supporting this prediction. First, we found that self-projection to the personal past recruited greater ventral mPFC, whereas observing another person's perspective recruited dorsal mPFC. Second, activity in ventral versus dorsal mPFC was sensitive to parametric modulation on each trial by the ability to relive the personal past or to understand another's perspective, respectively. Third, task-related functional connectivity analysis revealed that ventral mPFC contributed to the medial temporal lobe network linked to memory processes, whereas dorsal mPFC contributed to the fronto-parietal network linked to controlled processes. In sum, these results suggest that ventral-dorsal subregions of the anterior midline are functionally dissociable and may differentially contribute to self-projection of self versus other.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/jocn.2010.21518DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3132549PMC
June 2011

Attentional demands for demonstrating deficits following intrabasalis infusions of 192 IgG-saporin.

Behav Brain Res 2008 Dec 18;195(2):231-8. Epub 2008 Sep 18.

Department of Psychology, College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23187, USA.

Previous research has shown that basal forebrain cholinergic inputs to the cerebral cortex are necessary for attentional processing. However, the key components of attention-demanding tasks for demonstrating deficits following loss of basal forebrain corticopetal cholinergic neurons are unclear. In the present experiment, rats were trained in a visual cued discrimination task with limited explicit attentional demands and then received intrabasalis infusions of the immunotoxin, 192 IgG-saporin, or saline. Postsurgically, attentional demands were increased by decreasing the signal duration or the intertrial interval or by increasing the variability of these parameters. Subsequently, rats were trained in a task that required discrimination of successively presented signals and "blank" trials with no signal presentation. Again, attentional demands were increased by manipulating signal duration or the intertrial interval. Finally, all rats were trained in a task with both the signal duration and the intertrial interval designed to increase attentional demands. Compared to sham-lesioned animals, lesioned animals exhibited deficits in signal detection only during the successive discrimination task with both the signal duration and intertrial interval shorter and variable. The present data suggest that attentional deficits following loss of cortical cholinergic inputs result from overall attentional task demands rather than being dependent on any single task parameter.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2008.09.006DOI Listing
December 2008