[PS-3.71] The effect of background noise on the activation of phonological and semantic information during spoken-word recognition

Hintz, F. 1 & Scharenborg, O. 1, 2

1 Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2 Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behavior, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

During spoken-word recognition, listeners experience phonological competition between multiple word candidates. Moreover, listeners activate semantic knowledge during the word's unfolding. Here, we investigated the effect of background noise on phonological competition and tested to which extent noise affects the activation of semantic information in phonological competitors. Participants' eye movements were recorded as they listened to sentences containing a target word and looked at three types of displays. The displays either contained a picture of the target word, or of a phonological onset competitor, or of a word semantically related to the onset competitor, each along with three unrelated distractors. Comparisons between the noise and the clean listening conditions showed that fixations to target and phonological competitors were smaller in magnitude and occurred later, respectively, in noise, most likely reflecting enhanced phonological competition. Only marginal evidence for the activation of semantic information in the phonological competitors was observed in the clear, conflicting with previous studies. No evidence for semantic competition was seen in noise. We are currently following-up on the absence of a semantic effect in the clear, which may be connected to the nature of the visual environment or the overall presence of noise trials in the experiment.