How does sentence context affect activation of homophone and cohort competitors?

evidence from language-mediated eye movements

Samantha Calacouris, Jon Brock

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution

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    Abstract

    This study used eyetracking to measure the effects of sentence context on the unfolding process of spoken word identification. It is unclear from previous research whether sentence context affects the processing of spoken words and whether the effect is immediate or delayed. Huettig and Altmann (2004) presented sentences containing a homophone (e.g. pen). Participants tended to look at objects corresponding to both meanings of the homograph (writing pen, pig pen), even when the sentence context was biased towards one interpretation. This suggests that both meanings of a homophone are activated, regardless of context. However, other studies show that on hearing a target word (e.g. button) the tendency to look at a cohort competitor (e.g. butter) disappears if the competitor does not fit the sentence context (Brock & Nation, 2009; Dahan & Tanenhaus, 2004). The discrepancy between these findings may reflect differences in the way homophones are processed compared with other words, or may simply reflect differences in sentence context used across studies. In the present study, we directly compare the effect of the same sentence context on eye-movements directed at homophone and cohort competitors. Participants hear sentences such as "When Mark coughed he felt a pain in his chest so he decided to call the doctor" while viewing a display containing either a homophone competitor (e.g. a treasure chest) or a cohort competitor (e.g. a cheque). Results will shed light on the process of spoken word identification in typical populations and will provide reference for future studies investigating developmental disorders such as autism that are associated with difficulties processing language in context.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationASCS09
    Subtitle of host publicationproceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science
    EditorsWayne Christensen, Elizabeth Schier, John Sutton
    Place of PublicationNorth Ryde, NSW
    PublisherMacquarie Centre for Cognitive Science
    Pages28-34
    Number of pages7
    ISBN (Print)9780646529189
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2010
    EventConference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science (9th : 2009) - Sydney
    Duration: 30 Sep 20092 Oct 2009

    Conference

    ConferenceConference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science (9th : 2009)
    CitySydney
    Period30/09/092/10/09

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright 2009 by the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science. Publisher version archived with the permission of the Editor, ASCS09 : Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science. This copy is available for individual, non-commercial use. Permission to reprint/republish this version for other uses must be obtained from the publisher.

    Keywords

    • homophones
    • context
    • eye tracking
    • language processing

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