Effects of Auditory and Visual Cueing of Attention on Syntactic Choice in Sentence Production.
One of the topics in current psycholinguistics research is studying the factors affecting syntactic choice in sentence production. Previous research suggests that syntactic choice results from an interplay between linguistic and non-linguistic factors, and a speaker’s attention to the elements of a described event represents one such factor. It is a well-established fact that our attention receives inputs from various attentional modalities (e.g auditory, motor, olfactory etc.) simultaneously. Afterwards, attention filters the input by a number of factors (e.g. saliency) and allocates resources to the most prominent and important input at the given moment. This poses a question of whether other attentional modalities affect syntactic choice in a similar manner to visual modality. In this study we aimed to understand whether auditory and visual attention can affect syntactic choice. English native speakers described drawings of simple transitive events while their attention was directed to the location of the agent or the patient of the depicted event by means of either an auditory (monaural beep) or a visual (red circle) explicit lateral cue. We have measured the amount of passive structures produced. Our results were not significant, however there was a visible trend in visual cueing condition. In this paper we discuss possible reasons for such outcomes.