Do we rely on good-enough processing in reading under auditory and visual noise?


Noise, as part of real-life communication flow, degrades the quality of linguistic input and affects language processing. According to predictions of the noisy-channel model, noisemakes comprehenders rely more on word-level semantics and good-enough processing instead of actual syntactic relations. However, empirical evidence of such qualitative effect of noise on sentence processing is still lacking. For the first time, we investigated the qualitative effect of both auditory (three-talker babble) and visual (short idioms appearing next to target sentence on the screen) noise on sentence reading within one study in two eye-trackingexperiments. In both of them, we used the same stimuli — unambiguous grammatical Russian sentences — and manipulated their semantic plausibility. Our findings suggest that although readers relied on good-enough processing in Russian, neither auditory nor visualnoise qualitatively increased reliance on semantics in sentence comprehension. The only effect of noise was found in reading speed: only without noise, semantically implausible sentences were read slower than semantically plausible ones, as measured by both early and late eye-movement measures. These results do not support the predictions of the noisy-channel model. With regard to quantitative effects, we found a detrimental effect ofauditory noise on overall comprehension accuracy, and an accelerating effect of visual noise on sentence processing without accuracy decrease.

Center for Open Science
Anastasiya Lopukhina
Anastasiya Lopukhina
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

My research interests include individual differences in language processing, early language development, reading, and prediction.