Our former undergrad RA Suhas Arehalli, together with Eva Wittenberg, has published a new Open Access paper on experimental design. Congrats, Suhas!
Including fillers or distractors in psycholinguistic experiments has been standard for decades; yet, relatively little is known how the design of these items interacts with critical manipulations. In this paper, we ask about the role that contextual statistical information in filler items plays in determining if and how to correct a given error, and how grammatical expectations interact with context. We first replicate a speech restoration experiment conducted by Mack et al. (2012), measuring usage preferences of null-subject constructions. Then we report two additional experiments in which we manipulated only the filler items, either having noise appear uniformly at random, or with a particular bias. Our results (1) demonstrate that listeners are sensitive to statistical patterns in the distribution of noise within the experiment, and (2) suggest that this paradigm can be used to investigate interaction between the mechanisms that govern grammatical preferences, and those that govern error correction processes.