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PSY 369: Psycholinguistics

PSY 369: Psycholinguistics

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PSY 369: Psycholinguistics

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  1. PSY 369: Psycholinguistics Language Comprehension: The role of memory

  2. Memory and comprehension • Many sources of information may be used in processing sentences • Syntactic structure • Word frequency • Plausibility • Discourse context • Intonational information • The use of these information sources may be constrained by the amount of working memory resources that are available

  3. Center embedded structures • The house burned down. • The house the handyman painted burned down. • The house the handyman the teacher hired painted burned down.

  4. Center embedded structures • The house burned down.

  5. Center embedded structures • The house burned down. • The house the handyman painted burned down.

  6. This one may be legal, but that doesn’t mean that it is (easily) comprehensible • Center embedded structures • The house burned down. • The house the handyman painted burned down. • The house the handyman the teacher hired painted burned down. • (the handyman that the teacher hired painted the house that burned down)

  7. Memory and comprehension The man that the woman that the child hugged kissed laughed. • Most readers having trouble figuring out who did what to whom (called thematic role assignment). • Easier to assign thematic roles in the two sentences that form it: • The man that the woman kissed laughed. • The woman that the child hugged kissed the man. • The trouble: • Insufficient working memory resources to retain the intermediate products of computation made building the complex syntactic structure

  8. Measuring memory span • Daneman and Carpenter (1980) Technique: • This technique involves presenting sequences of 2 to 6 sentences, each of 12 to 17 words. • The participant has to read the sentences out loud, and attempt to remember the last word of each. • Then asked to recall as many last words as possible (in any order).

  9. Measuring memory span When at last his eyes opened, there was no gleam of triumph, no shade of anger.

  10. Measuring memory span The taxi turned up Michigan Avenue where they had a clear view of the lake.

  11. Measuring memory span • Recall the last words When at last his eyes opened, there was no gleam of triumph, no shade of anger. The taxi turned up Michigan Avenue where they had a clear view of the lake.

  12. Measuring memory span I turned my memories over at random like pictures in a photograph album.

  13. Measuring memory span I will not shock my readers by describing the cold-blooded butchery that followed.

  14. Measuring memory span He had an odd elongated skull which sat on his shoulder like a pear on a dish.

  15. Measuring memory span You can check out the books that you need for this course at the local library.

  16. Measuring memory span The radio station was promoting the concert with free tickets and back stage passes.

  17. Measuring memory span The professor could be seen on weekends in the backyard garden pulling out weeds.

  18. Measuring memory span • Recall the last words I turned my memories over at random like pictures in a photograph album. I will not shock my readers by describing the cold-blooded butchery that followed. He had an odd elongated skull which sat on his shoulder like a pear on a dish. You can check out the books that you need for this course at the local library. The radio station was promoting the concert with free tickets and back stage passes. The professor could be seen on weekends in the backyard garden pulling out weeds. • Ok for two sentences; Hard at 3 sentences; Very hard for 4 or more. • Used to classify readers as high and low span

  19. Memory and online comprehension The Capacity Theory of Comprehension (Just & Carpenter, 1992) • Proposed that individual differences in working memory capacity should influence how readers comprehend sentences

  20. “that was” disambiguates these sentences Memory and online comprehension The Capacity Theory of Comprehension (Just & Carpenter, 1992) • Studied garden path sentences • The animacy of the first noun may constrain the possible interpretation of the sentence Semantically Unconstrained: The defendant examined by the lawyer shocked the jury. The defendant that was examined by the lawyer shocked the jury. Semantically Constrained (so should be faster if animacy can be used) The evidence examined by the lawyer shocked the jury. The evidence that was examined by the lawyer shocked the jury.

  21. Memory and online comprehension Just the ambiguous sentences The defendant examined by the lawyer shocked the jury. The evidence examined by the lawyer shocked the jury. High span readers could use the semantic information to resolve the ambiguity

  22. Embedded clause Memory and online comprehension King and Just (1991) • Verbs which could provide strong pragmatic cues as to which of the two potential actors in the sentence was the agent: • The robber that the fireman rescued stole the jewelry. • Two possible agents: • the robber • the fireman • Two verbs, which is the main verb of the sentence?: • rescued • stole

  23. Memory and online comprehension King and Just (1991) • Verbs which could provide strong pragmatic cues as to which of the two potential actors in the sentence was the agent: • . • The robber that the fireman rescued watched the program. • The robber that the fireman detested stole the jewelry. • The robber that the fireman detested watched the program. • The robber that the fireman rescued stole the jewelry. • Can bias which Noun goes with which Verb pragmatically (or not)

  24. Memory and online comprehension King and Just (1991) • Verbs which could provide strong pragmatic cues as to which of the two potential actors in the sentence was the agent: embedded verb Main verb • The robber that the fireman rescued stole the jewelry. • The robber that the fireman rescued watched the program. • The robber that the fireman detested stole the jewelry. • The robber that the fireman detested watched the program. • Results • High-capacity subjects did not improve • Low-capacity subjects did

  25. Memory and online comprehension Garnsey, Pearlmutter, Pirog (2003) The professor (who was) confronted by the student was not ready for an argument. The professor (had) confronted the student but was not ready for an argument. Question: Do readers differ specifically in how quickly they can use disambiguating words to rule out incorrect alternatives?

  26. If last fix was here, trial not used If last fix was here, trial coded as Preview Unlikely If last fix was here, trial coded as Preview Likely Memory and online comprehension Garnsey, Pearlmutter, Pirog (2003) Eye fixations were analyzed separately - By whether preview of “by” while still fixating on verb likely The professor confrontedby the student was not ready to …

  27. Memory and online comprehension Readers who score high on the Reading Span test - Make better use of a peripherally visible disambiguating word to quickly rule out a preferred but incorrect interpretation

  28. Memory and online comprehension • What information is used to resolve syntactic ambiguities depends on individuals working memory capacity (but see Walters and Caplan (1996) for alternative view) • Just & Carpenter (1992) - high span readers used semantic information early, but low span readers didn’t • King & Just (1991) - high span readers did not use pragmatic information to resolve ambiguity, but low span readers did • Garnsey, Pearlmutter, Pirog (2003) - span differences may also depend on where the eye lands (which determines what kind of preview readers get)

  29. Memory and comprehension • What about memory for language over the longer term? • What do we remember about sentences?

  30. Memory for sentences Fillenbaum (1966) • Given: • The window is not closed • Tested: • The window is not closed • The window is closed • The window is not open • The window is open <-- surface similar, meaning different <-- surface similar, meaning different <-- surface different, surface different Most common error Meaning gets preserved, surface structure (and syntax) forgotten

  31. Memory for sentences Sachs (1967, 1974) • Heard (read): • He sent a letter about it to Galileo, the great Italian scientist.” • Tested: • Same: He sent a letter about it to Galileo, the great Italian scientist. • Act/Pass: A letter about it was sent to Galileo, the great Italian scientist. • Formal: He sent Galileo, the great Italian scientist, a letter about it. • Meaning: Galileo, the great Italian scientist, sent him a letter about it. • Measured accuracy of detecting changes

  32. Memory for sentences Meaning gets preserved, surface structure (and syntax) forgotten

  33. Just good enough representations • Ferreira and colleagues (Christianson et al 2001) • Garden-path sentence • While Anna dressed the baby played in the crib While Anna dressed, the baby played in the crib • Did the baby play in the crib? • Did Anna dress the baby? 100% correct 40% correct Comprehenders don’t always get all of the meaning right, but get enough to get by

  34. Propositions A mouse bit a cat bit (mouse, cat) • Good memory for meaning but not for form • How do we represent sentence meaning? • Propositions • Two or more concepts with a relationship between them

  35. Propositions A mouse bit a cat bit (mouse, cat) • Good memory for meaning but not for form • How do we represent sentence meaning? • Propositions • Two or more concepts with a relationship between them • Can represent this within a network framework

  36. mouse agent cat patient relation bit Meaning as Propositions • Propositions • A set of conceptual nodes connected by labeled pathways that expresses the meaning of a sentence • A mouse bit a cat or • A cat was bitten by a mouse

  37. Past Eat subject subject relation relation relation time Bread Slow Children Cold Deriving Propositions • More complex example: • Children who are slow eat bread that is cold • Slow children • Children eat bread • Bread is cold

  38. Evidence for Propositions • Memory better for sentences with fewer propositions • “The crowdedpassengerssquirmeduncomfortably” • passengers crowded • passengers squirmed • passengers uncomfortable Three propositions • “The horsestumbled and broke a leg” • horse stumbled • horse broke leg Two propositions

  39. Evidence for Propositions • Bransford & Franks, 1971 • Constructed four-fact sentences, and broke them down into smaller sentences: • 4 - The ants in the kitchen ate the sweet jelly that was on the table. • 3 - The ants in the kitchen ate the sweet jelly • 2 - The ants in the kitchen ate the jelly. • 1 - The jelly was sweet.

  40. Evidence for Propositions • Bransford & Franks, 1971 • Study: Heard 1-, 2-, and 3-fact sentences only • Test: Heard 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-fact sentences (most of which were never presented)

  41. Evidence for Propositions • Bransford & Franks, 1971 • Results: • the more facts in the sentences, the more likely Ss would judge them as “old” and with higher confidence • Even if they hadn’t actually seen the sentence • Constructive Model: we integrate info from individual sentences in order to construct larger ideas • emphasizes the active nature of our cognitive processes

  42. Priming Propositions • Ratcliff and McKoon (1978) “The mausoleum that enshrined the tsar overlooked the square.” • Involves two propositions: • P1 [OVERLOOK, MAUSOLEUM, SQUARE] • P2 [ENSHRINE, MAUSOLEUM, TSAR].

  43. Priming Propositions • Ratcliff and McKoon (1978) • Results in a cued memory task (how long does it take to verify “square” was in the sentence:

  44. Alternative Representations • Propositions are symbolic • Problems: • The referential problem • The implementation problem • The lack of scientific productivity • The lack of a biological foundation • Alternative • Embodied representations (e.g., Barsalou; 1999; Glenberg, 1999)

  45. Embodiment in language • Embodied representations • Perceptual and motor systems play a central role in language production and comprehension • Theoretical proposals • Linguistics: Lakoff, Langacker, Talmy • Neuroscience: Damasio, Edelman • Cognitive psychology: Barsalou, Gibbs, Glenberg, MacWhinney • Computer science: Steels, Feldman

  46. Embodiment in language • Embodied representations • Perceptual and motor systems play a central role in language production and comprehension • Words and sentences are usually grounded to perceptual, motoric, and emotional experiences. • In absence of inmediate sensory-motor referents, words and sentences refer to mental models or simulations of experience.

  47. Embodiment in language • Embodied representations • Brain activity • Comprehension and images • Concrete words • Action words activate motor representations

  48. Simulation hypothesis We understand utterances by mentally simulating their content. • Simulation exploits some of the same neural structures activated during performance, perception, imagining, memory… • Language gives us enough information to simulate

  49. Inference in comprehension • Not all propositions come from the bottom-up • Elaboration - integration of new information with information from long term memory • Memory for the new information improves as it is integrated • Inferences - a proposition (or other representation) drawn by the comprehender • From LTM, not directly from the input

  50. Inference in comprehension • Bransford, and colleagues (1972, 73) • We draw inferences in the course of understanding new events. • The inferences get encoded into our memory of the events. • e.g., drawing inferences of instruments