Degree Name

BS

Department

Neuroscience

College

Family, Home, and Social Sciences

Defense Date

2019-03-08

Publication Date

2019-03-15

First Faculty Advisor

Dr. Steven Luke

First Faculty Reader

Dr. David Eddington

Honors Coordinator

Dr. Rebekka Matheson

Keywords

Psycholinguistics, Eye Tracking, Linguistic Processing, Distraction

Abstract

This thesis examines the impact of repeated auditory and task-oriented distractors on linguistic processing. Impact was measured through eye tracking software recording first fixation duration, gaze duration, and total time spent on distractor words. This study found consistent significant difference only in the total time category, suggesting that the processing stage most impacted by distraction is global context—our awareness of how a word fits in to the paragraph at large. Participants were skilled at regaining reading speed after distraction, showing no overall impairment for other processing levels. This phenomenon could be dangerous for student comprehension, as reading speed will be maintained and the word and placement will feel familiar but the point of the reading they have done, understanding of context and concepts, will have been lost.

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