Spoken language comprehension: insights from eye movements

Michael K. Tanenhaus

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780198568971
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:
 Spoken language comprehension: insights from eye movements

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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Recently, eye movements have become a widely used response measure for studying spoken language processing in both adults and children, in situations where participants comprehend and generate utterances about a circumscribed “Visual World” while fixation is monitored, typically using a free-view eye-tracker. Psycholinguists now use the Visual World eye-movement method to study both language production and language comprehension, in studies that run the gamut of current topics in language processing. Eye movements are a response measure of choice for addressing many classic questions about spoken language processing in psycholinguistics. This article reviews the burgeoning Visual World literature on language comprehension, highlighting some of the seminal studies and examining how the Visual World approach has contributed new insights to our understanding of spoken word recognition, parsing, reference resolution, and interactive conversation. It considers some of the methodological issues that come to the fore when psycholinguists use eye movements to examine spoken language comprehension.

Keywords: Visual World; spoken language; language comprehension; eye movements; psycholinguistics; spoken word recognition; parsing; reference resolution; interactive conversation

Article.  13587 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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