Center Papers

Traxler, Corina, Morford, Hafer & Hoversten (2013)

Traxler, M. J., Corina, D. P., Morford, J. P., Hafer, S., & Hoversten, L. J. (2013). Deaf readers’ response to syntactic complexity: Evidence from self-paced reading. Memory & Cognition, 42 (1), 97-111. DOI 10.3758/s13421-013-0346-1 ____________________________________________________________________________________________

This study was designed to determine the feasibility of using self-paced reading methods to study deaf readers and to assess how deaf readers respond to two syntactic manipulations. Three groups of participants read the test sentences: deaf readers, hearing monolingual English readers, and hearing bilingual readers whose second language was English. In Experiment 1, the participants read sentences containing subject-relative or object-relative clauses. The test sentences contained semantic information that would influence online processing outcomes (Traxler, Morris, & Seely Journal of Memory and Language 47: 69–90, 2002; Traxler, Williams, Blozis, & Morris Journal of Memory and Language 53: 204–224, 2005). All of the participant groups had greater difficulty processing sentences containing object-relative clauses. This difficulty was reduced when helpful semantic cues were present. In Experiment 2, participants read active-voice and passive-voice sentences. The sentences were processed similarly by all three groups. Comprehension accuracy was higher in hearing readers than in deaf readers. Within deaf readers, native signers read the sentences faster and comprehended them to a higher degree than did nonnative signers. These results indicate that self-paced reading is a useful method for studying sentence interpretation among deaf readers.