Positional biases in predictive processing of intonation

Timo B. Roettger*, Michael Franke, Jennifer Cole

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Real-time speech comprehension is challenging because communicatively relevant information is distributed throughout the entire utterance. In five mouse tracking experiments on German and American English, we probe if listeners, in principle, use non-local, early intonational information to anticipate upcoming referents. Listeners had to select a speaker-intended referent with their mouse guided by intonational cues, allowing them to anticipate their decision by moving their hand toward the referent prior to lexical disambiguation. While German listeners (Exps. 1–3) seemed to ignore early pitch cues, American English listeners (Exps. 4–5) were in principle able to use these early pitch cues to anticipate upcoming referents. However, many listeners showed no indication of doing so. These results suggest that there are important positional asymmetries in the way intonational information is integrated, with early information being paid less attention to than later cues in the utterance. Open data, scripts, and materials can be retrieved here: https://osf.io/xf8be/.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-370
Number of pages29
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • Prosody
  • intonation
  • mouse tracking‌
  • rational analysis
  • sentence comprehension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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