What are naturalistic comprehension paradigms teaching us about language?

Naturalistic paradigms of language comprehension offer a potential wealth of information for understanding how language processing occurs in everyday use. This information, however, is not immediately apparent and can only be interpreted when considering 1) basic processes that underlie language comprehension (e.g., memory encoding, memory retrieval, integration, prediction of incoming content) 2) processes that modulate or accompany comprehension (e.g., mood effects, attentional biases, emotional responses) and 3) the relation between language-induced activity and pre-existing, semantically rich baseline processes in the brain. Considering these issues conjointly, we outline a general interpretive framework for naturalistic studies of language. We argue that ignoring such issues can lead to serious misinterpretations of neurobiological data.

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Last updated April 2014