Prediction of successful reanalysis based on eye-blink rate and reading times in sentences with local ambiguity

Lola Karsenti*, Aya Meltzer-Asscher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study focuses on individual differences in the ability to recover from an initial misinterpretation during the processing of garden path (GP) sentences with local syntactic ambiguity. The performance of reanalysis in GP sentences is a cognitive task that requires efficient use of executive functions and allocation of working memory resources. In this study, we explored the possible role of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which has long been implicated in cognitive control processes, in the successful performance of reanalysis. We examined whether participants’ ability to successfully reanalyze a sentence with local ambiguity can be predicted based on (1) their tonic dopamine levels, as reflected by their resting state spontaneous eye-blink rate, measured prior to the experiment; and (2) their reading time patterns in the critical region of the sentence. We ran a self-paced reading experiment in Hebrew, assessing reanalysis performance via a paraphrasing task. We observed a linear and polynomial effect of eye-blink rate on reanalysis performance, with medium rates, corresponding to medium dopamine levels, associated with best performance. We also observed an effect of reading times, with longer reading times in the critical region predicting better reanalysis performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-574
Number of pages23
JournalLanguage and Cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - 30 Dec 2022


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation216/18


    • cognitive control
    • dopamine
    • eye-blink rate
    • individual differences
    • sentence comprehension
    • syntactic processing
    • syntactic reanalysis


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