Effects of Attention on the Strength of Lexical Influences on Speech Perception: Behavioral Experiments and Computational Mechanisms

Cognitive Science 32 (2):398-417 (2008)
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The effects of lexical context on phonological processing are pervasive and there have been indications that such effects may be modulated by attention. However, attentional modulation in speech processing is neither well documented nor well understood. Experiment 1 demonstrated attentional modulation of lexical facilitation of speech sound recognition when task and critical stimuli were identical across attention conditions. We propose modulation of lexical activation as a neurophysiologically plausible computational mechanism that can account for this type of modulation. Contrary to the claims of critics, this mechanism can account for attentional modulation without violating the principle of interactive processing. Simulations of the interactive TRACE model extended to include two different ways of modulating lexical activation showed that each can account for attentional modulation of lexical feedback effects. Experiment 2 tested conflicting predictions from the two implementations and provided evidence that is consistent with bias input as the mechanism of attentional control of lexical activation.



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