Eye movements and the label feedback effect: Speaking modulates visual search via template integrity

Katherine P. Hebert, Stephen D. Goldinger, Stephen C. Walenchok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The label-feedback hypothesis (Lupyan, 2012) proposes that language modulates low- and high-level visual processing, such as priming visual object perception. Lupyan and Swingley (2012) found that repeating target names facilitates visual search, resulting in shorter response times (RTs) and higher accuracy. In the present investigation, we conceptually replicated and extended their study, using additional control conditions and recording eye movements during search. Our goal was to evaluate whether self-directed speech influences target locating (i.e. attentional guidance) or object perception (i.e., distractor rejection and target appreciation). In three experiments, during object search, people spoke target names, nonwords, irrelevant (absent) object names, or irrelevant (present) object names (all within-participants). Experiments 1 and 2 examined search RTs and accuracy: Speaking target names improved performance, without differences among the remaining conditions. Experiment 3 incorporated eye-tracking: Gaze fixation patterns suggested that language does not affect attentional guidance, but instead affects both distractor rejection and target appreciation. When search trials were conditionalized according to distractor fixations, language effects became more orderly: Search was fastest while people spoke target names, followed in linear order by the nonword, distractor-absent, and distractor-present conditions. We suggest that language affects template maintenance during search, allowing fluent differentiation of targets and distractors. Materials, data, and analyses can be retrieved here: https://osf.io/z9ex2/

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104587
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Label-feedback hypothesis
  • Language
  • Perception
  • Top-down effects
  • Visual search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Eye movements and the label feedback effect: Speaking modulates visual search via template integrity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this