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Sentence comprehension in competing speech: dichotic sentence-word priming reveals hemispheric differences in auditory semantic processing

Aydelott, Jennifer and Baer-Henney, D. and Trzaskowski, M. and Leech, Robert and Frederic, Dick (2012) Sentence comprehension in competing speech: dichotic sentence-word priming reveals hemispheric differences in auditory semantic processing. Language and Cognitive Processes 27 (7-8), pp. 1108-1144. ISSN 0169-0965.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01690965.2011.589735

Abstract

This study examined the effects of competing speech on auditory semantic comprehension using a dichotic sentence-word priming paradigm. Lexical decision performance for target words presented in spoken sentences was compared in strongly and weakly biasing semantic contexts. Targets were either congruent or incongruent with the sentential bias. Sentences were presented to one auditory channel (right or left), either in isolation or with competing speech produced by a single talker of the same gender presented simultaneously. The competing speech signal was either presented in the same auditory channel as the sentence context, or in a different auditory channel, and was either meaningful (played forward) or unintelligible (time-reversed). Biasing contexts presented in isolation facilitated responses to congruent targets and inhibited responses to incongruent targets, relative to a neutral baseline. Facilitation priming was reduced or eliminated by competing speech presented in the same auditory channel, supporting previous findings that semantic activation is highly sensitive to the intelligibility of the context signal. Competing speech presented in a different auditory channel affected facilitation priming differentially depending upon ear of presentation, suggesting hemispheric differences in the processing of the attended and competing signals. Results were consistent with previous claims of a right ear advantage for meaningful speech, as well as with visual word recognition findings implicating the left hemisphere in the generation of semantic predictions and the right hemisphere in the integration of newly encountered words into the sentence-level meaning. Unlike facilitation priming, inhibition was relatively robust to the energetic and informational masking effects of competing speech, and was not influenced by the strength of the contextual bias or the meaningfulness of the competing signal, supporting a two-process model of sentence priming in which inhibition reflects later-stage, expectancy-driven strategic processes that may benefit from perceptual reanalysis after initial semantic activation.

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): auditory language comprehension, semantic priming, hemispheric asymmetries, lexical access, multitalker environments, competing speech
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
Depositing User: Unnamed user with email j.aydelott@bbk.ac.uk
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2012 10:59
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/5469

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