Spotlight on...

Yanina Prystauka

Back to spotlights

October 2023

What did you do using Gorilla and what did you find?

I used Gorilla for my postdoc project. I took advantage of the webcam-based eye tracking functionality that Gorilla affords.

We asked whether webcam-based eye tracking provides the necessary granularity to replicate effects, both large and small, that tracker-based eye tracking has shown. Using the Gorilla Experiment Builder platform and the Visual World Paradigm, we replicated two psycholinguistic effects: a robust one, the verb semantic constraint effect, first reported in Altmann and Kamide (1999) and a smaller one, the lexical interference effect, first examined by Kukona et al. (2014). We were able to replicate both effects, thus showing that the functionality of webcam-based eye tracking is not limited to large effects. We finished our investigation with a discussion of statistical power necessary for online eye tracking studies.

You can read the published study here:

And find the materials on OSF here:

What was your study protocol?

We used an eye tracking Visual World Paradigm task wherein participants listened to auditory sentences while simultaneously viewing a scene containing four pictures and choosing a picture mentioned in the sentence. Additionally, we administered a Flanker task, a vocabulary knowledge task (where participants were required to indicate the picture whose name they heard through headphones), and a grammatical gender knowledge task in which they had to choose the correct auditory description for a given picture.

How did Gorilla make your life or research better, easier or faster?

It allowed me to collect data from about 300 participants including a hard-to-get population of heritage speakers scattered around the US and Canada without spending months and thousands of dollars traveling for data collection.

What real-world problem do you see that your research could impact?

The current project I’m involved in investigates the impact of physical exercise on language production in aging individuals. Additionally, I’m closely collaborating with another group that is studying the effects of bilingualism and multilingualism on cognitive function in older adults. I find great potential in this line of research, where we explore how common and affordable activities such as learning multiple languages and engaging in physical activity can have a positive influence on our aging brains and various cognitive functions, including language.

How do you think online research is going to change your field?

We believe that the advent of webcam-based eye tracking, at least in respect of the visual world paradigm, will kickstart a new wave of more diverse and inclusive psycholinguistic studies. Unlike traditional lab-based eye tracking, where a researcher needs to be present,webcams allow us to involve a wider range of people (including un(der)represented populations) in more diverse locations. This means we can study different groups and languages more easily, and it’s convenient for participants to choose when to take part.

Additionally, using webcams is cheaper and doesn’t require fancy equipment or labs. This makes it possible for more researchers, even those without a lot of resources, to do this kind of research. Also, by making it easier and cheaper to collect data, we can increase our sample sizes which in turn will help fixing the issue of statistical power in our field.

For you, what is the stand-out feature in Gorilla?

You can open the tool for the first time and build a simple experiment already the same day. And if you do get stuck, you can contact Gorilla Support who are very efficient in answering any questions.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in behavioural science?

Start with an online tool, seriously! You can collect a lot of data in a short amount of time and get a head start in your academic career. Also, learn programming!.

Are there any online courses, podcasts, discussion groups or resources that you’d recommend to others?

If you are interested in all things related to bilingualism, I would like to recommend this fun podcast we’ve been working on in our lab: HELPiNG Questions.

What’s your favourite science meme?

When I was a PhD student I was really into the Lego Grad Student memes: A lot of them apply to post docs too (and I imagine academia in general).

When you’re not working what do you enjoy doing?

I enjoy hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, fishing (lots of opportunities for these activities in Northern Norway!), playing padel and chatting with my friends.

Subscribe to Gorilla Grants

We regularly run grants to help researchers and lecturers get their projects off the ground. Sign up to get notified when new grants become available