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Poster B114

Parafoveal and foveal sensitivity to semantic and syntactic violations in deaf and hearing readers: An ERP study

Poster Session B - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Emily M. Akers1,2 (, Katherine J. Midgley1, Phillip J. Holcomb1, Karen Emmorey1; 1San Diego State University, 2University of California, San Diego

When investigating sentence comprehension, ERP studies typically use an RSVP design where words are flashed on the screen one at a time. This method has substantial differences from typical reading and has been criticized for lack of ecological validity. The current study utilized an “RSVP with flankers” design where three words are presented and appear to slide into the central point of fixation. This design more closely resembles natural reading while maintaining a word-by-word presentation format allowing us to investigate effects when the critical word is in the fovea and parafovea. Currently, we have tested 24 hearing and 24 deaf readers in a sentence violation identification task with three violation types: semantic, verb agreement, and word order. For foveated words, hearing readers showed a strong P600 for agreement and word order violations. As found previously, deaf readers did not show P600 effects for agreement violations (perhaps because this type of violation is not possible in ASL), but they did exhibit a robust P600 for word order violations. For semantic violations, deaf readers showed a stronger N400 effect than hearing readers for foveated words, and neither group exhibited strong sensitivity to semantic violations in the parafovea. Importantly, only deaf readers displayed an effect in the parafovea for word order violations, indicating they are able to detect this type of anomaly prior to fixation. This finding is consistent with evidence that deaf readers have enhanced attention in the visual periphery and a larger reading span compared to hearing readers.

Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Syntax


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April 13–16  |  2024