Successful language processing requires speaker and hearer to dynamically create richly structured representations within a few hundred milliseconds of encountering each new word.
Our group asks how this feat is achieved, whether it is achieved in the same fashion across languages with varying word order and morphological markers, what are the possible neural encoding mechanisms for richly structured information and how the dynamics of language processing differ in adult native speakers, child and adult language learners, or in atypical learners.
Some distinctive features of the Maryland group include its expertise in cross-language research (e.g., recent studies on Japanese, Hindi, Mandarin, Portuguese, Basque, Russian, American Sign Language and Spanish); its use of diverse tools to investigate language-related processes (reading time, eye-movement measures, EEG and MEG measures of millisecond-grain brain activity and fMRI measures of brain localization); and its work involving neuro-computational modeling of language processing and studies of developmental and atypical populations. The rich network of connections between investigators make it feasible to try to seamlessly align insights from formal grammars with findings from psycho/neurolinguistics and computational neuroscience, often in ways that we could not have imagined a few years ago.
Research in psycholinguistics at Maryland is not pursued as a separate enterprise, but rather is closely integrated into all research areas of the department and the broader language science community. Weekly research group meetings primarily feature student presentations of in-progress research and typically attract 20-30 people.
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Lingering effects of disfluent material on the comprehension of garden path sentences
Do we experience garden path effects when a disfluent speaker replaces one verb with another (as in "chosen, uh, I mean selected") and only one of the two yields the garden-path ambiguity?
In two experiments, we tested for lingering effects of verb replacement disﬂuencies on the processing of garden path sentences that exhibit the main verb/reduced relative (MV/RR) ambiguity. Participants heard sentences with revisions like "The little girl chosen, uh, selected for the role celebrated with her parents and friends." We found that the syntactic ambiguity associated with the reparandum verb involved in the disﬂuency (here "chosen") had an inﬂuence on later parsing: Garden path sentences that included such revisions were more likely to be judged grammatical if the reparandum verb was structurally unambiguous. Conversely, ambiguous non-garden path sentences were more likely to be judged ungrammatical if the structurally unambiguous disﬂuency verb was inconsistent with the ﬁnal reading. Results support a model of disﬂuency processing in which the syntactic frame associated with the replacement verb ‘‘overlays’’ the previous verb’s structure rather than actively deleting the already-built tree.
http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1080/0169096044400014" target="_blank" class="button">Read More about Lingering effects of disfluent material on the comprehension of garden path sentences
A 'bag-of-arguments' mechanism for initial verb predictions
Wing Yee Chow and collaborators propose that predictions of an upcoming verb based on a preceding argument NP are based initially on the meaning of its head noun,and only later on the meaning of its grammatical relation.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23273798.2015.1066832" target="_blank" class="button">Read More about A 'bag-of-arguments' mechanism for initial verb predictions
A Direct Comparison of N400 Effects of Predictability and Incongruity in Adjective-Noun Combination
The N400 is modulated both by association and by predictability: but independently? Only slightly, show Ellen and her collaborators, suggesting that its senstivity to both does not come just from trouble integrating a word with its prior context.
http://dx.doi. org/10.1525/collabra.40" target="_blank" class="button">Read More about A Direct Comparison of N400 Effects of Predictability and Incongruity in Adjective-Noun Combination