Research Methods in Psycholinguistics

This is a summarization of available research methods in psycholinguistic field.

  1. Habituation Techniques

    Looking time(LT) is the most common measure of habituation in language acquisition research. Habituation is one of the optimal tasks for testing pre‐verbal infants as it does not rely on overt productions, but rather on implicit cognitive measures (e.g., looking time, sucking, heart rate, among others). Further, based on the comparator model, it allows researchers to determine the nature of infants’ percepts and concepts by testing differing levels of novelty from the habituated stimulus (e.g., changing a habituated word form by one phoneme, or multiple sound changes).

  2. Visual Preference Techniques

    Children know much about language before they can produce it.

  3. Assessing Receptive and Expressive Vocabulary in Child Language

    receptive and expressive vocabulary is a core component of language structure. Three general types of methods that are appropriate for use with young children: language sampling, parent report, and direct assessment.

  4. Eye‐Movement Tracking During Reading

    Eye movements during reading are mostly tracked with video-based pupil monitoring systems using isolated words, sentences, paragraphs, or texts serving as stimuli.

  5. The Visual World Paradigm

    A family of experimental methods for studying real-time language processing in language comprehension and production that can be used with participants of all ages and most special populations. Participants’ eye movements to objects in a visual workspace or pictures in a display are monitored as they listen to, or produce, spoken language that is about the contents of the visual world.

  6. Word Priming and Interference Paradigms

    It has long been known that our repository of words, the mental lexicon, is not a random heap of words, but has a complex internal structure. Priming and interference paradigms have been used to study a broad range of issues concerning the structure of the mental lexicon and the ways linguistic representations are accessed during word comprehension and production.

  7. Structural Priming

    Automatic and implicit facilitation of abstract structures and processes that underlie language use. During language use, people tend to show facilitation when language structure is repeated across consecutive utterances.

  8. Conversation Analysis

    An inductive, micro‐analytic, and predominantly qualitative method for studying language as it is used in social interaction. The CA approach typically resonates with those who are interested in the specifics of human social conduct and committed to naturalistic observation.

  9. Virtual Reality

    Immersive virtual reality provides a degree of richness and realism that is not possible in traditional laboratory experiments, while enabling researchers to maintain rigorous control over the stimuli and the experimental environment.

  10. Computational Modeling

    Computational models offer particular advantages in dealing with complex interactions between variables that are often confounded in natural language situations. Two approaches of computational modeling in psycholinguistics: the probabilistic approach and the connectionist approach.

  11. Corpus Linguistics

    The study of language through the empirical analysis of large databases of naturally occurring language, called corpora. In this analysis, the meaning of a target word is derived by taking into account the words surrounding the target word. This makes it possible to calculate the semantic similarity between two target words.

  12. Electrophysiological Methods

    Recordings of electrical brain activity allow researchers to track multiple cognitive subprocesses with high temporal resolution.

  13. Hemodynamic Methods: fMRI and fNIRS

    Neural activity leads to changes in the amount of oxygen nearby in the brain. Two methods in cognitive neuroscience exploit this indirect measure of neural activation. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is a method that measures the oxygenation in local parts of the brain at relatively high spatial resolution (in the order of millimeters). Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) uses the reflection of infrared light onto the cortical surface as an indicator of blood oxygenation and hence neural activity.

  14. Structural Neuroimaging

    Structural imaging based on computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has progressively replaced traditional post‐mortem studies in the process of identifying the neuroanatomical basis of language.

  15. Lesion Studies

    Lesion studies are used to infer the neural basis of psycholinguistic processes in the healthy human brain.

  16. Molecular Genetic Methods

    Finding the genetic variation that underlies inter-individual variability in language skills is an important approach for deciphering the biological bases of this fascinating human phenomenon.

Chuanrong Li

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