Wednesday, February 28, 2007

be patient when you read, you'll catch all our flaws...

Humans all over are an impatient species. We jump ahead with everything.

In my research of semantic priming, wherein the reader expects a certain ending to a sentence, I found a few articles that indicate that this happens at word-level, too.

For example:
Semantic priming (high cloze probability sentence):
Johnny ate a peanut butter and jelly ________. I'm sure near 100% of you would fill in "sandwich."

Word priming:


Now, what goes in to complete that word? The blank in an experiment discussed in Rumelheart and McCleland (1981) had an obscured letter at the end that had a horizontal line and two slightly crooked appendages: most people perceived this as a "k," and the second-most popular choice was of a "d." The clincher? The ending was actually an obscured "R." The word was a nonsense word, and the task was to say fill in the blank letter, not to pronounce the word. So subjects were never primed to think that was an actual word. Go back and look at it. I'm sure your mind, for a split, split second, thinks "work," or "word"

According to Rummelheart and McClelland (1981), this word is out of context. But, what of forced context? If I wrote the letter "B" with some blanks, your mind immediate jumps to all possible words it knows that starts with "B" if "I" were the next word, "BI__" you might start going to BIND, BIKE, BILL, etc. But what if I wrote "BINT." The mind is forced to read BINT and then search around in its working memory for what that word might mean. That is, it reads the sentence, and if no real meaning is found, it moves on. The activation for B is limited, but all word that have "_INT" aren't (HINT, LINT, DINT). That is, even though the first letter is more dominant, usually, the brain gets stuck on INT.

So, if this happens on word-level, it must happen on sentence level.
"We raised pigs and cows on the family ____" farm is what you'd think. But the N400 is triggered stronger if I ended it with "dirt" and strongest with "apple."

So I leave you with this quote:
"'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe."

-Lewis Carrol
"...dealing with nonsense is what reading [is] fundamentally all about."-Robert Glushko

Rumelhart, DE., and McClelland, JL., (1981) Interactive processing though spreading activation in Lesglold AM., Perfetti, CA. (eds.) Interactive Processing in Reading. Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates, Hillsdale.

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