, Volume 34, Issue 5, pp 409-420

Quantifying contextual contributions to word-recognition processes


The experiment reported here used the gating paradigm (Grosjean, 1980) to investigate the following issues: To test the validity of the claims made by the “cohort” theory (Marslen-Wilson & Tyler, 1980; Marslen-Wilson & Welsh, 1978) for the interaction of sensory and contextual constraints during the process of recognizing spoken words, and to determine the relative contribution of two kinds of contextual constraint—syntactic and interpretative—in reducing the amount of sensory input needed for recognition. The results both provide good support for the cohort model, and show that although strong syntactic constraints on form-class only marginally reduce the amount of sensory input needed, a minimal interpretative context has a substantial facilitatory effect on word recognition.