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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The online advantage of repairing metrical structure: Stress shift in pupillometry


In this paper we use pupillometry, a non-invasive, naturalistic method of measuring attention and cognitive load, to measure the effect of stress clash (Chinése shíp) and its metrical repair (Chínese shíp) during auditory sentence processing. We addressed two main research questions. The first question explores whether phonologically-disfavored metrical structures induce processing costs indexed by changes in pupil size. The second investigates whether the application of an optional process of stress retraction called the Rhythm Rule (Liberman & Prince, 1977) ameliorates or compounds any general penalty for stress clash. We find that unrepaired stress clash leads to greater pupil diameter relative to non-clashing sequences, indicating increased attention and cognitive load. We also find that repaired sequences lead to a decrease in overall pupil diameter, indicating facilitation.

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