Poster B76, Sunday, March 26, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Pragmatic humor influences semantic prediction and conflict resolution in online comprehension: Evidence from ERPs
Megan Zirnstein1, Amy Kinsey2, Rhonda McClain2, Sybrine Bultena3, Dorothee Chwilla3, Judith F. Kroll1,2; 1University of California, Riverside, 2Pennsylvania State University, 33Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour, Radboud University, Nijmegen
Comprehenders are capable of forming expectations for the meanings of upcoming words, and accommodating potential processing costs due to prediction error, reflected, for example, by a late, frontally-distributed and positive event-related potential (ERP) found in response to unexpected words, even during the comprehension of jokes (Coulson & Williams, 2005). However, when the context is pragmatically constrained (e.g., by speaker identity) little evidence is found for this type of prediction cost (e.g., a child speaker saying: “Every evening I need some… wine”; van Berkum et al., 2008; Foucart et al., 2015). The current study attempts to clarify this discrepancy in the literature by assessing the influence of humor when pragmatic constraint is violated and prediction errors occur. Participants viewed pairs of pictures and sentences while their EEG was recorded. Pictures depicted the identity of the individual communicating the following sentence (e.g., the Queen of England) and ERPs were time-locked to critical words embedded in the sentence (e.g., “Every day, I drink…”) that were either expected (tea), unexpected (juice), or both unexpected and humorous (gin). Results showed a frontally-distributed positivity in response to both unexpected conditions. However, this effect was larger in pragmatically humorous contexts. The presence of prediction error costs may reflect attempts to revise mental models for future predictive processing (Kuperberg & Jaeger, 2015) or to suppress a previous prediction (Zirnstein et al., in submission), processes which may both be susceptible to the presence of humor.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Semantic