Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Psycholinguistics of Proper Name Comprehension

Using a Voice to Put a Name to a Face: The Psycholinguistics of Proper Name Comprehension 
by Dale J Barr (Senior Lecturer, Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, University of Glasgow)

Laura Jackson and Isobel Phillips
in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General (2013),

PMID 23398179

We propose that hearing a proper name (e.g., Kevin) in a particular voice serves as a compound memory cue that directly activates representations of a mutually known target person, often permitting reference resolution without any complex computation of shared knowledge. In a referential communication study, pairs of friends played a communication game, in which we monitored the eyes of one friend (the addressee) while he or she sought to identify the target person, in a set of four photos, on the basis of a name spoken aloud. When the name was spoken by a friend, addressees rapidly identified the target person, and this facilitation was independent of whether the friend was articulating a message he or she had designed versus one from a third party with whom the target person was not shared. Our findings suggest that the comprehension system takes advantage of regularities in the environment to minimize effortful computation about who knows what.

(PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
DOI: 10.1037/a0031813 

text of preprint's manuscript: