Task goals, text genre and cloze probability modulate the N400 in sentence reading

Victoria Wright, Isabella Gulliksen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Objectives: Recent work has shown that top-down strategies guide lexical prediction during reading (Brothers, Swaab & Traxler, 2017). As readers encounter different types of texts in their daily lives, and read them for different purposes, we examined whether the type of text being read (narrative fiction or expository non-fiction) and the goal of the reading task modulate lexical prediction as indexed by the N400 component. Design: Task goal (reading for a test vs. reading for no test), text genre (narrative fiction vs. non-fiction) and cloze probability (low vs. moderate) were manipulated across a 2x2x2 repeated measures design. Method: Eighteen participants read eighty passages of text across the experimental conditions. EEG was recorded from 64 scalp sites. Results: Task goal, genre and cloze probability interacted over temporal areas. For non-fiction texts, a larger N400 for low cloze passages was evident in the test condition but not in the no-test condition. For fiction texts, the opposite pattern was observed, with larger N400 amplitudes to low cloze passages in the no-test condition. Conclusions: These findings extend previous work on lexical prediction in reading by suggesting that text type interacts with high-level reading strategies during reading. We interpret these results as supporting Huettig’s (2015) account of lexical prediction via multiple processing pathways and suggest that text type may influence reading goals via Huettig’s putative Type II system.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2020


  • Sentence Reading N400 EEG


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