Presentation (Project) Title

How Does Visual Word Forms and Lexical Status Interact with Sentence Context: A Proposed Event-Related Potential Study

Mentor Information

Elizabeth R. Schotter (Department of Psychology)

Presentation Format

Event

Abstract

Readers use their expectations about upcoming words, based on the preceding sentence context, to facilitate word recognition. Consequently, processing of non-words that are visually similar to expected words is also facilitated by a constraining sentence context. However, less is known about how non-words are processed in sentence structures that do not generate strong expectations. The N400 is an event-related brain potential component that reflects the amount of effort required to recognize a word. For example, the N400 amplitude is less negative for real words compared to non-words. Importantly, the lexicality effect disappears within a sentence context as long as the non-word/word is visually similar to the most expected word (Laszlo & Federmeier, 2009). It is unclear whether the disappearance of the lexicality effect is due to the reader’s expectations, which reduce their visual processing of the word, or due to more general aspects of sentence reading that affect word recognition. To investigate this, we will replicate Laszlo and Federmeier (2009) and include neutral sentences that do not generate expectations for a particular word, thereby not reducing the need to process the visual aspects of the text. If the lexicality effect is present in the neutral sentences, it would mean that strong expectations generated from a sentence context reduce readers’ use of visual input when recognizing a word. Alternatively, if the lexicality effect is absent in the neutral sentences, it would suggest that readers pay less attention to visual forms of words when they are embedded in a sentence context compared to when they are perceived in isolation.

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How Does Visual Word Forms and Lexical Status Interact with Sentence Context: A Proposed Event-Related Potential Study

Readers use their expectations about upcoming words, based on the preceding sentence context, to facilitate word recognition. Consequently, processing of non-words that are visually similar to expected words is also facilitated by a constraining sentence context. However, less is known about how non-words are processed in sentence structures that do not generate strong expectations. The N400 is an event-related brain potential component that reflects the amount of effort required to recognize a word. For example, the N400 amplitude is less negative for real words compared to non-words. Importantly, the lexicality effect disappears within a sentence context as long as the non-word/word is visually similar to the most expected word (Laszlo & Federmeier, 2009). It is unclear whether the disappearance of the lexicality effect is due to the reader’s expectations, which reduce their visual processing of the word, or due to more general aspects of sentence reading that affect word recognition. To investigate this, we will replicate Laszlo and Federmeier (2009) and include neutral sentences that do not generate expectations for a particular word, thereby not reducing the need to process the visual aspects of the text. If the lexicality effect is present in the neutral sentences, it would mean that strong expectations generated from a sentence context reduce readers’ use of visual input when recognizing a word. Alternatively, if the lexicality effect is absent in the neutral sentences, it would suggest that readers pay less attention to visual forms of words when they are embedded in a sentence context compared to when they are perceived in isolation.