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Dissociating word frequency and predictability effects in reading: Evidence from coregistration of eye movements and EEG

  • Two very reliable influences on eye fixation durations in reading are word frequency, as measured by corpus counts, and word predictability, as measured by cloze norming. Several studies have reported strictly additive effects of these 2 variables. Predictability also reliably influences the amplitude of the N400 component in event-related potential studies. However, previous research suggests that while frequency affects the N400 in single-word tasks, it may have little or no effect on the N400 when a word is presented with a preceding sentence context. The present study assessed this apparent dissociation between the results from the 2 methods using a coregistration paradigm in which the frequency and predictability of a target word were manipulated while readers’ eye movements and electroencephalograms were simultaneously recorded. We replicated the pattern of significant, and additive, effects of the 2 manipulations on eye fixation durations. We also replicated the predictability effect on the N400, time-locked to the onset of the reader’s first fixation on the target word. However, there was no indication of a frequency effect in the electroencephalogram record. We suggest that this pattern has implications both for the interpretation of the N400 and for the interpretation of frequency and predictability effects in language comprehension.

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Author:Franziska KretzschmarGND, Matthias SchlesewskyGND, Adrian Staub
Parent Title (English):Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Publisher:American Psychological Association
Place of publication:Washington
Document Type:Article
Year of first Publication:2015
Date of Publication (online):2020/12/22
Tag:N400; eye movements; fixation-related potentials; word frequency; word predictability
GND Keyword:Blickbewegung; Elektrophysiologie; Experimentelle Psychologie; Psycholinguistik; Worthäufigkeit
First Page:1648
Last Page:1662
DDC classes:400 Sprache / 400 Sprache, Linguistik
Open Access?:ja
Linguistics-Classification:Psycholinguistik / Kognitive Linguistik
Licence (German):Es gilt das UrhG