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Tracking recognition of spoken words by tracking looks to printed words


McQueen,  James M.
Language Comprehension Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Decoding Continuous Speech, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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McQueen, J. M., & Viebahn, M. C. (2007). Tracking recognition of spoken words by tracking looks to printed words. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 60(5), 661-671. doi:10.1080/17470210601183890.

Eye movements of Dutch participants were tracked as they looked at arrays of four words on a computer screen and followed spoken instructions (e.g., "Klik op het woord buffel": Click on the word buffalo). The arrays included the target (e.g., buffel), a phonological competitor (e.g., buffer, buffer), and two unrelated distractors. Targets were monosyllabic or bisyllabic, and competitors mismatched targets only on either their onset or offset phoneme and only by one distinctive feature. Participants looked at competitors more than at distractors, but this effect was much stronger for offset-mismatch than onset-mismatch competitors. Fixations to competitors started to decrease as soon as phonetic evidence disfavouring those competitors could influence behaviour. These results confirm that listeners continuously update their interpretation of words as the evidence in the speech signal unfolds and hence establish the viability of the methodology of using eye movements to arrays of printed words to track spoken-word recognition.