Year of Graduation
Automaticity in Lexical Access: Eye-tracking Investigations
Cognitive Sciences and Technologies: From Neuron to Cognition
Language processing has been claimed to be partially automatic. Previous neurophysiological experiments reported early lexically-specific brain responses to visual stimuli presented parafoveally outside the visual focus. These studies have not, however, controlled for eye movements, leaving a possibility that subjects may have foveated the stimuli and overtly processed them. To address this, we used eye-tracking in order to scrutinize automaticity of lexical access and investigate spatial and lexical effects of brief unattended presentation of orthographic stimuli on eye movements. Saccade analysis showed that subjects paid almost no overt attention to the stimuli. Saccades were not influenced by the lexicality of the stimuli. At the same time, recall tests indicated above-chance memory for the parafoveal linguistic stimuli. Our data support the notion of automatic lexical access as the words seem to be unattended and still processed covertly.