Seminar | Auditory distraction during reading: Evidence from eye-tracking


Thursday, 12 April, 2018 - 15:00

Speaker: Prof. Bernhard Angele (Bournemouth University,

Abstract: Much of our reading in daily life occurs in the presence of background sounds such as speech, noise, or unexpected sounds in our environment. The influence of background sounds on reading is not well understood because most studies have only considered the end product of reading (i.e., comprehension) rather than the ongoing reading process. In four experiments, we investigated the effect of background speech, noise, and deviant sounds on online reading behaviour. Meaningful background speech affected sentence integration processes and re-reading behaviour, but had little if any effect on initial word processing. Meaningless speech (i.e. speech in an unfamiliar language) had very limited effect on eye-movement measures, thus suggesting that distraction by background speech is mostly semantic in nature. The increase in re-reading fixations by meaningful speech was found to support reading comprehension processes. Finally, readers' eye-movements were sensitive to rare and unexpected deviant sounds presented in a sequence of a repetitive sound. The theoretical implications of the results will be discussed.