Validity of Eye Movement Methods and Indices for Capturing Semantic (Associative) Priming Effects

Odekar, Anshula; Hallowell, Brooke; Kruse, Hans; Moates, Danny; Chao-Yang Lee
February 2009
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Feb2009, Vol. 52 Issue 1, p31
Academic Journal
Purpose: The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the usefulness of eye movement methods and indices as a tool for studying priming effects by verifying whether eye movement indices capture semantic (associative) priming effects in a visual cross-format (written word to semantically related picture) priming paradigm. Method: In the stimuli development phase, words semantically associated to an array of pictures were generated based on 100 adults' association data for each picture. A total of 40 additional adult participants with normal language engaged in an eye movement experiment using the word-picture associations developed previously. The design consisted of each prime preceding a display showing 1 high-association (target) and 2 low-association (nontarget) images. Fixation durations, locations, and latencies were measured. Results: Images semantically related to the prime showed greater fixation durations and shorter latencies compared to nontargets. Eye movement and traditional reaction time measures were found to correlate for some of the experimental conditions. Conclusions: Results showed that free-viewing eye movement measures, in which participants are not instructed to look at anything in particular, hold promise as valid indicators of priming effects. Further research in this area will help to advance language-processing theories in individuals with and without language impairment.


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