Listening to Limericks: A Pupillometry Investigation of Perceivers’ Expectancy

Christoph Scheepers (Lead / Corresponding author), Sibylle Mohr, Martin H. Fischer, Andrew M. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
201 Downloads (Pure)


What features of a poem make it captivating, and which cognitive mechanisms are sensitive to these features? We addressed these questions experimentally by measuring pupillary responses of 40 participants who listened to a series of Limericks. The Limericks ended with either a semantic, syntactic, rhyme or metric violation. Compared to a control condition without violations, only the rhyme violation condition induced a reliable pupillary response. An anomaly-rating study on the same stimuli showed that all violations were reliably detectable relative to the control condition, but the anomaly induced by rhyme violations was perceived as most severe. Together, our data suggest that rhyme violations in Limericks may
induce an emotional response beyond mere anomaly detection.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere74986
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sep 2013

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