KP seminar 09

Identifying the beast in my breast:
More evidence for the influence of inter-word lexical priming
on eye movements during reading
Kevin Paterson
University of Leicester
Colin Davis
Royal Holloway, University of London
Sam McCormack
Royal Holloway, University of London
Simon Liversedge,
University of Southampton
Lexical priming
o Morpho-orthographic similarity between words affects
performance in word recognition tasks.
o Are effects similar for words read normally in sentences?
o How does this influence eye movement behaviour?
o Consequences for theories of eye movement control?
Orthographic neighbours
o Widespread view that reading a word activates lexical
entry for that word and for orthographically similar words.
o Coltheart et al. (1977) defined a word’s orthographic
neighbours as those words that can be formed by
substituting one letter for another while preserving letter
positions and length.
e.g. “tank” has “rank”, “sank”, “task”, etc. as neighbours.
Word recognition research
o Prior exposure to neighbour prime slows
target word recognition.
o Masked / covert priming
Larger effect when prime is of higher
frequency than target.
Effect due to prime supplying strong
competitor for target word.
o Unmasked / overt priming
Larger effects when primes is of
lower frequency than target.
Effect attributed to inhibition of higher
frequency competitors when prime is
consciously identified.
Eye movement studies
Words with higher frequency neighbours have longer total
reading times and receive more regressions than controls.
(Perea & Pollatsek, 1998; see also Pollatsek et al., 1999; Slattery, in press)
Effect may emerge early in eye movement record when
the higher frequency neighbour is highly predictable in the
sentence context. (Slattery, in press)
Eye movement studies
o Williams et al. (2006) used boundary technique to examine
effects of parafoveal preview of a word’s neighbour.
 Preview of higher frequency neighbour facilitates target
word processing.
 Preview facilitates word identification by activating letter
representations shared with target.
He felt the cold sweet on his face.
He felt the cold sleet on his face.
Paterson, Liversedge, & Davis, PB&R, 2009.
Experiment 1
o Investigated whether neighbour priming effects are
observed between words read normally in a sentence.
o Sentences contained either prime-target pairs or controltarget pairs matched for length and frequency.
o Primes / controls displayed normally earlier in sentence
than targets (mean 1.8 words (7.4 chars) apart).
o Prime was higher or lower in frequency than target (High
freq = 316, Low freq = 8, p<.05).
Low freq prime – high freq target
There was a blurprime as the bluetarget lights spill-over of the police car
whizzed down the street.
There was a gaspcontrol as the bluetarget lights spill-over of the police
car whizzed down the street.
High freq prime – low freq target
In the photograph, the blueprime lights were a blurtarget against spillover the cold night.
In the photograph, the towncontrol lights were a blurtarget against spillover the cold night.
Method & Procedure
Participants’ right eye movements
recorded using DPI eye tracker at
the University of Leicester.
48 sets of sentences (using word
stimuli from Davis & Lupker, 2006).
40 participants from University of
Eye Movement Measures
First fixation duration – length of first fixation on word.
…to the marsh where...
Single fixation duration – length of fixation on word
receiving only 1 fixation.
Eye Movement Measures
Gaze duration – duration of fixations on word first time
it is read.
…to the marsh where...
Total reading time – duration of all fixations on word.
Prime word
Longer gaze durations for lower
frequency primes: 17ms effect
(Fs>4.8). Interaction not significant.
Therefore, evidence that the
manipulation of prime word frequency
was effective.
Target word
Robust inhibitory priming effects at
target word were unaffected by primetarget word frequency.
First fixation durations
First fixation durations: 12 ms effect
(Fs>5.8). No interaction (Fs<1).
Gaze durations: 15 ms effect (Fs>4.3).
No interaction (Fs<1).
Total reading times: 45 ms effect
(Fs>8.8). No interaction.
Gaze durations
Spill-over region
More regressions from post-target
region when target follows neighbour
prime (Fs>4.9). Interaction not
Evidence that targets that follow
neighbour primes are sometimes
Summary & Conclusions
o Prior exposure to a word’s neighbour earlier in a
sentence slows subsequent processing of that word
during normal reading.
o Effect is observed in eye movement measures
associated with early word processing.
o Unlike in word recognition research, effect was not
modulated by prime-target word frequency.
o Eye movements during reading are sensitive to intrasentential, inter-lexical influences that occur naturally
within sentences.
Paterson, Alcock, & Liversedge, under review
Experiment 2: Morphological Priming
o Extended this research by examining inter-word
morphological priming effect.
o Priming effect turns facilitatory in word recognition studies
when prime target words are morphologically related.
Semantically transparent
marshy / thorny -> marsh
Apparent morphological relationship
number / really -> numb
No morphological relationship
extract / justify -> extra
Example Stimuli
Semantically transparent
The forest behind the school had a marshy /
thorny path leading to the marsh where the
students studied the wildlife.
Apparent morphological relationship
If the security man had kept the key number /
really safe he would not be numb with sorrow now.
No morphological relationship
More time was allowed to extract / justify the
extra information that was given.
o Participants’ right eye
movements recorded
using DPI eye-tracker.
o 32 participants from
University of Leicester.
o 54 sets of prime and
target words (18 of each
Early target word processing
Priming effect in first fixation durations for semantically
transparent morphological primes only.
Later target word processing
o Same pattern in gaze
durations and total
reading times as in first
fixation durations.
o Effect for semantically
transparent primes
Reading time effect
Word identification facilitated by semantically related
morphological primes only.
Effect emerged in eye movement measures that reflect
early word processing,so it appears that prior exposure
to a morphologically complex word can facilitate early
processing of a semantically related stem.
Pattern similar to that observed in unmasked priming –
in both cases prime is available for conscious
identification prior to fixation on target word.
Eye Movement Measures
Skipping – percentage probability of skipping word.
Regressions – percentage probability of regression.
…to the marsh where...
o Higher word-skipping rates for target words that
follow primes than controls.
Word Skipping effects
Widely argued that word-skipping effects occur when
word can be identified in parafoveal vision (e.g., Binder
et al., 1999; Brysbaert et al., 2005).
It appears that exposure to prime facilitated parafoveal
processing of target, to extent that it was more likely to
be identified (or misidentified) in parafoveal vision.
Word skipping often followed by regression, which has
been attributed to error-correcting procedure (Drieghe
et al., 2004; Brysbaert et al., 2005).
o More regressions from post-target region when
target word follows prime than control.
Skipping and regression effects
Also, more regressions when targets were skipped
(38%) than when they received first-pass fixation(24%).
Findings are consistent with targets that follow primes
sometimes being misidentified in parafoveal vision and
subsequent detection of misidentification triggering a
Evidence for early orthographic priming effect in
parafoveal processing of word targets.
Two clear effects: orthographic priming effect on
parafoveal word processing, and semantically mediated
morphological priming effect in target word reading
Brief experience of processing a word can carry across
intervening words to influence lexical processing of
another word later in same sentence.
This is turn rapidly influences eye movements, and so
inter-word priming effects may have an important
influence on eye movement control.
What is the source of this interword lexical priming effect?
What Colin might say…
Effect is due to spreading
activation in the mental
lexicon. A prime word
activates its lexical entry and
lexical entries for related
words. This activation decays
over time. However, there is
sufficient ongoing activation
to produce orthographic
What Erik might think…
This is an episodic memory
effect. When prime and
target words are read
separately, target word
processing evokes an
episodic memory trace
encoded during prime
word processing, and this
affects word identification.
How to test these ideas?
o Spreading activation effects should be short-lived and
dissipate rapidly across intervening words.
o Episodic effects should be longer-lasting.
o Therefore, valuable to determine if inhibitory priming is
affected by the number of intervening words in sentences.
Experiment 3
Examined 2 questions:
Are inhibitory priming effects observed for
addition and deletion neighbours?
(e.g., Davis, Perea, & Acha, (In press)
public-pubic beast-breast
2. Do effects occur for prime-target pairs that are
either close together or further apart in
Close prime-target pairs
1. The beast prime at his breast target looked scary and was desperate
for a meal.
The snake control at his breast target looked scary and was desperate
for a meal.
Distant prime-target pairs
3. The beast prime that sat quivering at his breast target looked scary and
was desperate for a meal.
The snake control that sat quivering at his breast target looked scary
and was desperate for a meal.
Method & Procedure
Participants’ right eye movements
recorded using DPI eye tracker at
the University of Leicester.
60 sets of sentences.
40 participants from University of
Target Word Reading Times
Inhibitory priming effect in first fixation
durations for close prime-target pairs
Stronger inhibitory priming effect for
close prime-target pairs in gaze
Similar pattern in total reading times.
Spill-over Region Effects
No priming effects in first fixation
durations or first-pass reading times
However, longer total reading times and
more regressions from this region when
target followed either a close or distant
neighbour prime.
o Evidence that prior exposure to higher frequency
addition/deletion neighbour during reading can impede
word processing.
o Evidence for priming effects for both close and distant
prime-target pairs, although these effects emerge in
different eye movement measures.
o Effect for close prime-target pairs emerges in measures of early
word processing (in first fix and gaze durations for target word).
o Effect for distant prime-target pairs appears in measures of later
word processing (total reading times and regressions for posttarget word).
o Consistent with operation of spreading activation and
episodic priming effects?
o Powerful inhibitory priming effects for close prime-target
pairs because of residual activation in prime word’s
lexical entry?
o Weaker interference effects for distant prime-target pairs
because activation has dissipated over intervening words,
leaving only episodic effect?
Consequences for EM models?
o Current eye movement models such as E-Z Reader and
SWIFT do not include mechanisms that allow for interword lexical priming effects.
o Models need to be further developed to provide
explanation of the effect of higher order processes on eye
movements during reading, including inter-word priming.
o Future research needs to establish full extent of interword priming and degree to which effects carry across
intervening words in a sentence (see also Forster, 2009, for
research on masked priming effects that carry across intervening words).