Prediction advantage as retrieval interference: an ACT-R model of processing possessive pronouns
We propose a retrieval interference-based explanation of a prediction advantage effect observed in Stone et al. (in press). They reported two dual-task eye-tracking experiments in which participants listened to instructions involving German possessive pronouns, e.g. ‘Click on his blue button’, and were asked to select the correct object from a set of objects displayed on screen. Participants’ eye movements showed predictive processing, such that the target object was fixated before its name was heard. Moreover, when the target and the antecedent of the pronoun matched in gender, predictions arose earlier than when the two genders mismatched — a prediction advantage. We propose that the prediction advantage arises due to similarity-based interference during antecedent retrieval, such that the overlap of gender features between the antecedent and possessum boosts the activation level of the latter and helps predict it faster. We report an ACT-R model supporting this hypothesis. Our model also provides a computational implementation of the idea that prediction can be thought of as memory retrieval. In addition, we provide a preliminary ACT-R model of changes in visual attention as a result of language processing.