The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Ling Lunch 2/11 - John Kingston

Speaker: John Kingston (UMass Amherst)
Title: When Do Words Influence Perception? Converging Evidence that the Ganong Effect is Early
Date: Thursday, February 11
Time: 12:30-1:45pm
Location: 32-D461

(joint work with Amanda Rysling, Adrian Staub, Andrew Cohen, and Jeffrey Starns)

Ganong (1980, JEP:HPP, 6, 110-125) first showed that listeners prefer to categorize ambiguous stimuli from a word-nonword continuum with the category corresponding to the word endpoint. Fox (1984, JEP:HPP 10, 526-540) showed that this preference, the so-called “Ganong effect,” was stronger in slower than faster responses, perhaps because it takes time for a word to be activated and for that activation to feed back on the phonemic decision process. Subsequent work has failed to replicate Fox’s finding (see Pitt & Samuel, 1993, JEP:HPP, 19, 699-725, for additional evidence and a metanalysis). We present evidence using four different designs, free response, response signal, eye tracking, and gating, that words are instead activated and influence categorization as soon as the listener hears supporting acoustic evidence.