How robust are prediction effects in language comprehension? Failure to replicate article-elicited N400 effects

Aine Ito, Andrea E. Martin, Mante Nieuwland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Current psycholinguistic theory proffers prediction as a central, explanatory mechanism in language processing (e.g., Pickering & Garrod, 2013). However, widely-replicated prediction effects may not mean that prediction is necessary in language processing (Huettig & Mani, 2016). As a case in point, Martin et al. (2013) reported ERP evidence for prediction in native speakers but not in non-native speakers. Articles mismatching an expected noun (e.g., “a” when people expect “umbrella”) elicited larger negativity in the N400 time window compared to articles matching the expected noun in native speakers, but not in non-native speakers. We attempted to replicate these findings in two experiments, but found no evidence for prediction irrespective of language nativeness. We argue that pre-activation of phonological form of upcoming nouns, as evidenced in article-elicited effects, may not be a robust phenomenon. We conclude that a view of prediction as a necessary computation in language comprehension must be re-evaluated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 954-965
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Volume32
Issue number8
Early online date18 Oct 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • prediction
  • bilingualism
  • N400
  • ERP
  • language comprehension

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