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Language test as a smartphone app
Date:11/29/2011

This release is available in German.

Dok or dog which of these is a real word, and which is not? Researchers use lexical decision tasks like this to find out what happens in the brain when people read words. Up to now, such experiments were carried out in the language laboratories of institutes and universities, where the participants sat in front of a computer monitor and indicated whether the sequence of letters presented on a screen made sense or not by pressing "yes" and "no" buttons. As part of an international research project, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, have liberated this traditional test from the confines of their research laboratory. Since December of last year, they offer the lexical decision task as an app in seven languages, which can be downloaded onto smartphones. As a result, in just four months' time they have collected the volume of data it would normally take them three years to obtain.

"This is truly revolutionary in many respects," says psycholinguist David Peeters, who is working at the Max Planck Institute and is responsible for the Dutch part of the study which involves a total of six institutes and universities from six different countries. "The coordinated use of the new communications technology makes it possible for us to carry out our research on a previously inconceivable scale," he explains enthusiastically. "It is entirely possible that we will discover things about the functioning of the brain in this way that could not be uncovered up to now using the smaller-scale experiments carried out in our language laboratory," he notes.

During lexical decision tasks, the test subjects are usually presented with a word from their native language which appears on a computer monitor or, in the case of the current study, on a smartphone display. Their r
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Contact: Myrna Tinbergen
myrna.tinbergen@mpi.nl
31-243-521-446
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert

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