Integrative and Predictive Processes in Text Reading: The N400 across a Sentence Boundary

Integrative and Predictive Processes in Text Reading: The N400 across a Sentence Boundary

First Author: Regina Calloway -- University of Pittsburgh
Additional authors/chairs: 
Charles Perfetti
Keywords: ERP, Reading comprehension, Text Characteristics
Abstract / Summary: 

Word-level integrative and predictive processes based on sentence-level information occur during text reading. In the present study we examined the role of predictive and integrative processes in cross-sentence boundary reading using two experiments. Experiment 1 was used to determine whether prediction and integration could be measured as two separate constructs. In Experiment 1, response times to determining if probe words occurred in a previous sentence were measured. Critical probes were either high or low in terms of predictability, given the previous context sentence. Both word types were easy to integrate relative to a previous sentence. Response time results indicated a predictability effect, thus predictability and integrability are dissociable.
Experiment 2 used event-related potentials (ERPs) to measure processing differences for high and low predictability words that were matched for integrability in sentence pairs. We also included a control condition, in which words were unpredictable and difficult to integrate. The ERP component of interest is the N400, an indicator of semantic processing. Results showed no difference in processing between high predictability and low predictability words across a sentence boundary, as indicated by the N400. However, both word types were easier to process than control conditions. Findings show semantic overlap from word-level and sentence-level activations facilitate integrative processes in cross-sentence boundary reading.