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New paper by Nuthmann et al. (PLOS One): Extrafoveal attentional capture by object semantics

Abstract: There is ongoing debate on whether object meaning can be processed outside foveal vision, making semantics available for attentional guidance. Much of the debate has centred on whether objects that do not fit within an overall scene draw attention, in complex displays that are often difficult to control. Here, we revisited the question by reanalysing data from three experiments that used displays consisting of standalone objects from a carefully controlled stimulus set. Observers searched for a target object, as…

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Press release on TICS paper

Speech recognition technology is not a solution for poor readers Could artificial intelligence be a solution for people who cannot read well (functional illiterates) or cannot read at all (complete illiterates)? According to psycholinguists, speech technology should never replace learning how to read. In an opinion article, Falk Huettig from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and Radboud University in Nijmegen and Martin Pickering from the University of Edinburgh argue that literacy leads to a better understanding of speech because…

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Opinion paper: Literacy advantages beyond reading: Prediction of spoken language (in press in Trends in Cognitive Sciences)

Huettig, F., & Pickering, M. (in press). Literacy advantages beyond reading: Prediction of spoken language. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Abstract: Literacy has many obvious benefits—it exposes the reader to a wealth of new information and enhances syntactic knowledge. However, we argue that literacy has an additional, often overlooked, benefit: it enhances people’s ability to predict spoken language thereby aiding comprehension. Readers are under pressure to process information more quickly than listeners, and reading provides excellent conditions, in particular a stable environment, for training…

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Max Planck Society Newsroom report: Culture shapes the brain

How reading changes the way we think APRIL 20, 2018 From a research perspective, reading and writing is a fascinating phenomenon. After all, the first writing systems date back less than 6,000 years – the blink of an eye in the timescale of human evolution. How the human brain is nonetheless able to master this complex task is a key question. Current topics of scientific interest include exploring the differences between practised readers and illiterate individuals - and the consequences…

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Out in eLife, Nieuwland et al: Large-scale replication study reveals a limit on probabilistic prediction in language comprehension

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…

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