Andrea E. Martin

Presentations

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8
  • Martin, A. E., & Nieuwland, M. S. (2014). Similarity-based interference during comprehension of noun phrases: Evidence from ERPs. Poster presented at the 6h conference of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

    Abstract

    Current accounts of sentence comprehension invoke the notion of retrieval interference as a primary determinant of difficulty during processing [1-2]. Specifically, similarity between constituents (e.g., NP feature-overlap) has been argued to interfere when people resolve subject-verb or anaphoric dependencies [3-7]. We ask whether similarity-based interference effects arise as a function of multiple NPs in the discourse that overlap in gender and/or number. We take a novel approach by examining interference effects at the second NP rather than downstream after “maintaining” multiple NPs [6- 8], using ERPs to establish quantitative and qualitative processing consequences. We used the empty category PRO to introduce two NPs, only the second NP could be PRO controller (e.g., “While [PRO] talking to the waitresses, the man/men/woman/women inspected the menu”). If feature overlap affects processing of the second NP, most interference should occur under gender- and number-matching NPs. Because this interference crosses the subject-object distinction, we predicted that interference would elicit a P600 effect, the effect most reliably associated with syntactic processing difficulties [9]. Methods: During EEG recording, 24 participants read 160 grammatical sentences (40 per condition) in a 2(gender: match, mismatch) x 2(number: match, mismatch) factorial design where the first clause introduced the object-NP and had PRO as subject, and the matrix clause introduced the controller of PRO. Subject and object NPs could overlap in gender and/ or number. We fully counterbalanced 160 male/female singular/plural gender-definitional nouns as object NPs, and as critical NP always ‘woman/man/girl/boy’ (or plural form). Sentences were mixed with 156 fillers and presented word by word (300 ms duration, 200 ms blank), followed by intermittent comprehension questions (85% response accuracy). Results: Across all electrodes, a significant gender by number interaction was observed (500-800 ms window [9]; F(1,23)=6.02, p<.05), due to a robust P600 effect of number-mismatch in the gender- match conditions (M=-1.18, F(1,23)=8.04, p=.01), that did not occur in the gender-mismatch conditions (M=-.17, F(1,23)=.18, ns). No distributional effects were observed. Conclusions: The P600 effect for double-match NPs suggests that interference was driven by similarity contingent upon matching gender and number. Our results testify to the strength of gender-cues during incremental processing, consistent with memory-based accounts of discourse comprehension [2-7]. The results suggest that when features maximally overlap, the subject NP may be momentarily considered as an anaphor for the more distinctive (i.e., first-mentioned and semantically richer) object NP. Alternatively, the P600 may reflect increased discourse complexity stemming from similar NPs [10]. Our results imply a central role for interference during comprehension, even of simple grammatical sentences. References: [1] Lewis, Vasishth, Van Dyke, 2006; [2] McElree, Foraker, & Dyer, 2003; [3] Gerrig & O’Brien, 2005; [4] Gordon, Hendrick, & Johnson, 2004; [5] McKoon & Ratcliff, 1998; [6] Van Dyke & McElree, 2006; [7] Gordon, Hendrick, Johnson, & Lee, 2006; [8] Wager & Phillips, 2013; [9] Osterhout & Holcomb, 1992; [10] Kaan & Swaab, 2003
  • Martin, A. E., & Nieuwland, M. S. (2014). Similarity-based interference during comprehension of noun phrases: evidence from ERPs. Poster presented at the 6th Annual Society for the Neurobiology of Language Conference, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

    Abstract

    Current accounts of sentence comprehension invoke the notion of retrieval interference as a primary determinant of difficulty during processing [1-2]. Specifically, similarity between constituents (e.g., NP feature-overlap) has been argued to interfere when people resolve subject-verb or anaphoric dependencies [3-7]. We ask whether similarity-based interference effects arise as a function of multiple NPs in the discourse that overlap in gender and/or number. We take a novel approach by examining interference effects at the second NP rather than downstream after “maintaining” multiple NPs [6-8], using ERPs to establish quantitative and qualitative processing consequences. We used the empty category PRO to introduce two NPs, only the second NP could be PRO controller (e.g., “While [PRO] talking to the waitresses, the man/men/woman/women inspected the menu”). If feature overlap affects processing of the second NP, most interference should occur under gender- and number-matching NPs. Because this interference crosses the subject-object distinction, we predicted that interference would elicit a P600 effect, the effect most reliably associated with syntactic processing difficulties [9]. Methods: During EEG recording, 24 participants read 160 grammatical sentences (40 per condition) in a 2(gender: match, mismatch) x 2(number: match, mismatch) factorial design where the first clause introduced the object-NP and had PRO as subject, and the matrix clause introduced the controller of PRO. Subject and object NPs could overlap in gender and/or number. We fully counterbalanced 160 male/female singular/plural gender-definitional nouns as object NPs, and as critical NP always ‘woman/man/girl/boy’ (or plural form). Sentences were mixed with 156 fillers and presented word by word (300 ms duration, 200 ms blank), followed by intermittent comprehension questions (85% response accuracy). Results: Across all electrodes, a significant gender by number interaction was observed (500-800 ms window [9]; F(1,23)=6.02, p<.05), due to a robust P600 effect of number-mismatch in the gender-match conditions (M=-1.18, F(1,23)=8.04, p=.01), that did not occur in the gender-mismatch conditions (M=-.17, F(1,23)=.18, ns). No distributional effects were observed. Conclusions: The P600 effect for double-match NPs suggests that interference was driven by similarity contingent upon matching gender and number. Our results testify to the strength of gender-cues during incremental processing, consistent with memory-based accounts of discourse comprehension [2-7]. The results suggest that when features maximally overlap, the subject NP may be momentarily considered as an anaphor for the more distinctive (i.e., first-mentioned and semantically richer) object NP. Alternatively, the P600 may reflect increased discourse complexity stemming from similar NPs [10]. Our results imply a central role for interference during comprehension, even of simple grammatical sentences. References: [1] Lewis, Vasishth, Van Dyke, 2006; [2] McElree, Foraker, & Dyer, 2003; [3] Gerrig & O’Brien, 2005; [4] Gordon, Hendrick, & Johnson, 2004; [5] McKoon & Ratcliff, 1998; [6] Van Dyke & McElree, 2006; [7] Gordon, Hendrick, Johnson, & Lee, 2006; [8] Wager & Phillips, 2013; [9] Osterhout & Holcomb, 1992; [10] Kaan & Swaab, 2003
  • Martin, A. E., & Nieuwland, M. S. (2014). Similarity-based interference during comprehension of noun phrases: Evidence from ERPs. Poster presented at the 20th Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing Conference (AMLAP 2014), Edinburgh, UK.
  • Martin, A. E., & Nieuwland, M. S. (2014). Similarity-based interference during comprehension of noun phrases: Evidence from ERPs. Talk presented at the 20th Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing Conference (AMLAP 2014). Edinburgh, Scotland. 2014-09-03 - 2014-09-06.
  • Nieuwland, M. S., Cunnings, I., Martin, A. E., & Sturt, P. (2014). Retrieval interference during comprehension of grammatical subject-verb agreement: Evidence from ERPs. Poster presented at the 6th Annual Society for the Neurobiology of Language Conference, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

    Abstract

    Research on subject-verb agreement during comprehension suggests a ‘grammaticality asymmetry’ in similarity-based retrieval interference. Whereas processing costs incurred by ungrammatical subject- verb agreement are reduced in the presence of a grammatically illicit attractor noun that matches the verb in number, attractor nouns have not been found to affect the processing of grammatical sentences [1]. However, most existing studies have only included singular verbs in the grammatical conditions, and the lack of retrieval interference in such cases could be a result of the fact that singular is an unmarked feature [2]. In the current study, we tested for similarity-based interference for both singular and plural verbs in fully grammatical sentences. If plural is a marked feature, we expect to find evidence of retrieval interference for plural verbs but not singular verbs when multiple items in memory match the number of the verb. We predicted that retrieval interference would elicit a P600 effect [3-4], the effect commonly associated with syntactic processing difficulties. Methods: Participants read 120 grammatical sentences (30 per condition) belonging to a 2(subject noun: plural, singular) x 2(attractor noun: plural, singular) factorial design in which the critical verb (have/had/were/was) always agreed in number with the subject noun. PS: “The keys to the cabinet were getting very rusty”, PP: “The keys to the cabinets were getting very rusty”, SS: “The key to the cabinet was getting very rusty”, SP: “The key to the cabinets was getting very rusty”. Sentences were mixed with 280 fillers and presented word by word (300 ms duration, 200 ms blank). Intermittent yes/no comprehension questions were answered with 92% accuracy. EEG data was recorded from sixty-four channels and segmented into epochs from 200 ms before to 1000 ms verb onset. Data was baselined to 0-200 ms post-stimulus to eliminate spurious effects from pre-critical word differences (see also [3-4]). Results: Using average amplitude per condition across 16 centrally distributed EEG electrodes, repeated measures ANOVAs in the 500-700 ms time window showed an effect of attractor that was reliably different for plural and singular verbs (F(1,35)=4.8, p<.05), with a robust P600 effect elicited by plural verbs (PP minus PS voltage difference, M=.64, F(1,35) = 5.7, p < .05) but none for singular verbs (SS minus SP, M= -.22, F(1,35)=.44, ns). Conclusions: The observed P600 effect for grammatically correct, plural verbs in context of a plural attractor noun suggests that retrieval interference arises as a by-product of grammatical processing, and constitutes evidence against a grammaticality asymmetry in interference effects. References: [1] Wagers, M. W., Lau, E. F., & Phillips, C. (2009). Journal of Memory and Language [2] Bock, K., & Eberhard, K. M. (1993). Language and Cognitive Processes [3] Kaan, E. (2002). Journal of Psycholinguistic Research [4] Tanner, D., Nicol, J., Herschensohn, J., & Osterhout, L. (2012). Proceedings of the 36th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 594-606).
  • Nieuwland, M. S., Cunnings, I., & Martin, A. E. (2014). Retrieval interference during comprehension of grammatical subject-verb agreement: Evidence from ERPs. Poster presented at the 20th Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing Conference (AMLAP 2014), Edinburgh, UK.
  • Nieuwland, M. S., Cunnings, I., & Martin, A. E. (2014). Retrieval interference during comprehension of grammatical subject-verb agreement: Evidence from ERPs. Poster presented at the 6th conference of the Society of the Neurobiology of Language, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • Nieuwland, M. S., Cunnings, I., Martin, A. E., & Stuart, P. (2014). Retrieval interference during comprehension of grammatical subject-verb agreement: Evidence from ERPs. Poster presented at the 20th Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing Conference (AMLAP 2014), Edinburgh, Scotland.

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