Although language is often written using clear boundaries between words (as in the orthographic space), spoken language does not contain such clear boundaries. Here, we investigate one approach listeners might use to segment words in speech: using top-down cognitive control. We used a conflict adaptation paradigm to investigate this, where we mixed together Stroop trials with trials where participants had to respond to pictures based on how they segmented words within a sentence. The sentences had context words that either had consistent cues to the segmentation of an acoustically ambiguous region (e.g., “Low prices are important for Minneapolis (s)ales and bargains.”) or inconsistent cues to the segmentation of the same region (e.g., “Low prices are important for Minneapolis (s)ales and lagers.”). In line with previous conflict adaptation results, we expected to see the type of context in an ambiguous sentence affect the response times found across conditions in following Stroop trials. The rest of our results, however, suggest that the task we gave participants was just too hard on them. We assess an alternative for future exploration.

This will also serve as the oral presentation necessary for Chris to get his Master's degree.