Error-Driven Adaptation of Higher-Level Expectations During Reading

Thomas FarmerDepartment of Psychology, University of Iowa
Alex FineUniversity of Rochester
Shaorong YanDepartment of Psychology, University of Iowa
Spyridoula CheimariouUniversity of Iowa
Florian JaegerUniversity of Rochester

Abstract

Fine et al. (2013) recently demonstrated that readers continually adapt their syntactic expectations in order to accurately approximate the distributions of syntactic structures in a given communicative context. Here, we examine patterns of eye movements as subjects read sentences that contain an atypical distribution of syntactic structures to gain more fine-grained insight into the time-course and nature of this adaptive process. An adaptation effect was only elicited on a late measure—second-pass reading times—consistent with the claim that expectation adaptation to an atypical distribution of syntactic structures occurs at a higher level that is abstracted away from the physical properties of the visual input.

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