Do people use language production to make predictions during comprehension?

Trends Cogn Sci. 2007 Mar;11(3):105-10. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2006.12.002. Epub 2007 Jan 24.


We present the case that language comprehension involves making simultaneous predictions at different linguistic levels and that these predictions are generated by the language production system. Recent research suggests that ease of comprehending predictable elements is due to prediction rather than facilitated integration, and that comprehension is accompanied by covert imitation. We argue that comprehenders use prediction and imitation to construct an "emulator", using the production system, and combine predictions with the input dynamically. Such a process helps to explain the rapidity of comprehension and the robust interpretation of ambiguous or noisy input. This framework is in line with a general trend in cognitive science to incorporate action systems into perceptual systems and has broad implications for understanding the links between language production and comprehension.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Comprehension / physiology*
  • Concept Formation / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Generalization, Psychological / physiology
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Phonetics
  • Reading*
  • Semantics
  • Set, Psychology*
  • Speech / physiology*
  • Speech Perception / physiology*