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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Activation of biographical information via picture of cultural figures during comprehension: evidence from eye-tracking during reading


In an eye-tracking during reading experiment, we examined how rapidly two types of photo-sentence relations impact sentence comprehension. The relation between a photo of a cultural figure and a year in an ensuing sentence (either the cultural figure in the photo was either alive in that year or not) was contrasted with relations between the same photo and achievements or facts about the cultural figure (e.g., a film they had vs. had not starred in). Longer reading times were observed at the regions containing mismatching year or fact, with more robust effects when data were filtered to include only trials in which participants had accurate prior knowledge about the cultural figure, their accomplishments, and their lifetime. These findings indicate that specific long-term knowledge is activated by a picture of a known figure and is rapidly available during language processing.

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