Construction and Updating of Event Models in Auditory Event Processing

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Humans segment the continuous stream of sensory information into distinct events at points of change. Between 2 events, humans perceive an event boundary. Present theories propose changes in the sensory information to trigger updating processes of the present event model. Increased encoding effort finally leads to a memory benefit at event boundaries. Evidence from reading time studies (increased reading times with increasing amount of change) suggest that updating of event models is incremental. We present results from 5 experiments that studied event processing (including memory formation processes and reading times) using an audio drama as well as a transcript thereof as stimulus material. Experiments 1a and 1b replicated the event boundary advantage effect for memory. In contrast to recent evidence from studies using visual stimulus material, Experiments 2a and 2b found no support for incremental updating with normally sighted and blind participants for recognition memory. In Experiment 3, we replicated Experiment 2a using a written transcript of the audio drama as stimulus material, allowing us to disentangle encoding and retrieval processes. Our results indicate incremental updating processes at encoding (as measured with reading times). At the same time, we again found recognition performance to be unaffected by the amount of change. We discuss these findings in light of current event cognition theories.

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