The Articulatory In-Out Effect Resists Oral Motor Interference

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People prefer words with inward directed consonantal patterns (e.g., MENIKA) compared to outward patterns (KENIMA), because inward (outward) articulation movements resemble positive (negative) mouth actions such as swallowing (spitting). This effect might rely on covert articulation simulations, or subvocalizations, since it occurs also under silent reading. We tested to what degree these underlying articulation simulations are disturbed by oral motor interference. In 3 experiments (total N = 465) we interfered with these articulation simulations by employing concurrent oral exercises that induce oral motor noise while judging inward and outward words (chewing gum, Experiment 1; executing meaningless tongue movements, Experiment 2; concurrent verbalizations, Experiment 3). Across several word stimulus types, the articulatory in-out effect was not modulated by these tasks. This finding introduces a theoretically interesting case, because in contrast to many previous demonstrations regarding other motor-preference effects, the covert simulations in this effect are not susceptible to selective motor interference.

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