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Large-scale replication study reveals a limit on probabilistic prediction in language comprehension

Nieuwland, Mante, Politzer-Ahles, Stephen, Heyselaar, Evelien, Segaert, Katrien, Von Grebmer Zu Wolfsthurn, Sarah, Bartolozzi, Federica, Kogan, Vita, Ito, Aine, Meziere, Diane, Barr, Dale, and others. (2018) Large-scale replication study reveals a limit on probabilistic prediction in language comprehension. eLife, 7 . ISSN 2050-084X. (doi:10.7554/eLife.33468) (KAR id:66789)

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Do people routinely pre-activate the meaning and even the phonological form of upcoming words? The most acclaimed evidence for phonological prediction comes from a 2005 Nature Neuroscience publication by DeLong, Urbach and Kutas, who observed a graded modulation of electrical brain potentials (N400) to nouns and preceding articles by the probability that people use a word to continue the sentence fragment (‘cloze’). In our direct replication study spanning 9 laboratories (N=334), pre-registered replication-analyses and exploratory Bayes factor analyses successfully replicated the noun-results but, crucially, not the article-results. Pre-registered single-trial analyses also yielded a statistically significant effect for the nouns but not the articles. Exploratory Bayesian single-trial analyses showed that the article-effect may be non-zero but is likely far smaller than originally reported and too small to observe without very large sample sizes. Our results do not support the view that readers routinely pre-activate the phonological form of predictable words.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.7554/eLife.33468
Projects: [UNSPECIFIED] Tracking the cognitive basis of social communication across the life-span
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
Depositing User: Heather Ferguson
Date Deposited: 28 May 2018 20:33 UTC
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2020 04:14 UTC
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Ferguson, Heather J.:
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