In the eye of the listener: Pupil dilation elucidates discourse processing☆

Publication year: 2011
Source: International Journal of Psychophysiology, In Press, Uncorrected Proof, Available online 14 June 2011

Martina, Zellin , Ann, Pannekamp , Ulrike, Toepel , Elke van, der Meer

The current study investigated cognitive resource allocation in discourse processing by means of pupil dilation and behavioral measures. Short question–answer dialogs were presented to listeners. Either the context question queried a new information focus in the successive answer, or else the context query was corrected in the answer sentence (correction information). The information foci contained in the answer sentences were either adequately highlighted by prosodic means or not. Participants had to judge the adequacy of the focus prosody with respect to the preceding context question. Prosodic judgment accuracy was higher in the conditions bearing adequate focus prosody than in the…

 Highlights: ► New information foci induced slower pupillary responses than correction foci. ► For peak dilation, an interaction of pragmatic focus and prosody was found. ► Correction foci with adequate prosody induced smallest peak dilation.