Revising misinterpretations of language input

"Speech unfolds swiftly, yet listeners keep pace by rapidly assigning meaning to what they hear. Sometimes though, initial interpretations turn out wrong. How do listeners revise misinterpretations of language input moment-by-moment, to avoid comprehension errors? Cognitive control may play a role by detecting when processing has gone awry, and then initiating behavioral adjustments accordingly. However, no research has investigated a cause-and-effect interplay between cognitive control engagement and overriding erroneous interpretations in real-time. Using a novel cross-task paradigm, we show that Stroop-conflict detection, which mobilizes cognitive control procedures, subsequently facilitates listeners’ incremental processing of temporarily ambiguous spoken instructions that induce brief misinterpretation. When instructions followed Stroop-incongruent versus -congruent items, listeners’ eye-movements to objects in a scene reflected more transient consideration of the false interpretation and earlier recovery of the correct one. Comprehension errors also decreased. Cognitive control engagement therefore accelerates sentence re-interpretation processes, even as linguistic input is still unfolding."

quote from "Psychological Science Journal"
Jared Novick
Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences