Andrea E. Martin

Publications

Displaying 1 - 34 of 34
  • Cutter, M. G., Martin, A. E., & Sturt, P. (in press). Capitalization interacts with syntactic complexity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.

    Abstract

    We investigated whether readers use the low-level cue of proper noun capitalization in the parafovea to infer syntactic category, and whether this results in an early update of the representation of a sentence’s syntactic structure. Participants read sentences containing either a subject relative or object relative clause, in which the relative clause’s overt argument was a proper noun (e.g., The tall lanky guard who alerted Charlie/Charlie alerted to the danger was young) across three experiments. In Experiment 1 these sentences were presented in normal sentence casing or entirely in upper case. In Experiment 2 participants received either valid or invalid parafoveal previews of the relative clause. In Experiment 3 participants viewed relative clauses in only normal conditions. We hypothesized that we would observe relative clause effects (i.e., inflated fixation times for object relative clauses) while readers were still fixated on the word who, if readers use capitalization to infer a parafoveal word’s syntactic class. This would constitute a syntactic parafoveal-on-foveal effect. Furthermore, we hypothesised that this effect should be influenced by sentence casing in Experiment 1 (with no cue for syntactic category being available in upper case sentences) but not by parafoveal preview validity of the target words. We observed syntactic parafoveal-on-foveal effects in Experiment 1 and 3, and a Bayesian analysis of the combined data from all three experiments. These effects seemed to be influenced more by noun capitalization than lexical processing. We discuss our findings in relation to models of eye movement control and sentence processing theories.
  • Martin, A. E., & Baggio, G. (in press). Modeling meaning composition from formalism to mechanism. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences.
  • Brennan, J. R., & Martin, A. E. (2019). Phase synchronization varies systematically with linguistic structure composition. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences. Advance online publication. doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0305.

    Abstract

    Computation in neuronal assemblies is putatively reflected in the excitatory and inhibitory cycles of activation distributed throughout the brain. In speech and language processing, coordination of these cycles resulting in phase synchronization has been argued to reflect the integration of information on different timescales (e.g. segmenting acoustics signals to phonemic and syllabic representations; (Giraud and Poeppel 2012 Nat. Neurosci.15, 511 (doi:10.1038/nn.3063)). A natural extension of this claim is that phase synchronization functions similarly to support the inference of more abstract higher-level linguistic structures (Martin 2016 Front. Psychol.7, 120; Martin and Doumas 2017 PLoS Biol. 15, e2000663 (doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.2000663); Martin and Doumas. 2019 Curr. Opin. Behav. Sci.29, 77–83 (doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2019.04.008)). Hale et al. (Hale et al. 2018 Finding syntax in human encephalography with beam search. arXiv 1806.04127 (http://arxiv.org/abs/1806.04127)) showed that syntactically driven parsing decisions predict electroencephalography (EEG) responses in the time domain; here we ask whether phase synchronization in the form of either inter-trial phrase coherence or cross-frequency coupling (CFC) between high-frequency (i.e. gamma) bursts and lower-frequency carrier signals (i.e. delta, theta), changes as the linguistic structures of compositional meaning (viz., bracket completions, as denoted by the onset of words that complete phrases) accrue. We use a naturalistic story-listening EEG dataset from Hale et al. to assess the relationship between linguistic structure and phase alignment. We observe increased phase synchronization as a function of phrase counts in the delta, theta, and gamma bands, especially for function words. A more complex pattern emerged for CFC as phrase count changed, possibly related to the lack of a one-to-one mapping between ‘size’ of linguistic structure and frequency band—an assumption that is tacit in recent frameworks. These results emphasize the important role that phase synchronization, desynchronization, and thus, inhibition, play in the construction of compositional meaning by distributed neural networks in the brain.
  • Kaufeld, G., Ravenschlag, A., Meyer, A. S., Martin, A. E., & Bosker, H. R. (2019). Knowledge-based and signal-based cues are weighted flexibly during spoken language comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/xlm0000744.

    Abstract

    During spoken language comprehension, listeners make use of both knowledge-based and signal-based sources of information, but little is known about how cues from these distinct levels of representational hierarchy are weighted and integrated online. In an eye-tracking experiment using the visual world paradigm, we investigated the flexible weighting and integration of morphosyntactic gender marking (a knowledge-based cue) and contextual speech rate (a signal-based cue). We observed that participants used the morphosyntactic cue immediately to make predictions about upcoming referents, even in the presence of uncertainty about the cue’s reliability. Moreover, we found speech rate normalization effects in participants’ gaze patterns even in the presence of preceding morphosyntactic information. These results demonstrate that cues are weighted and integrated flexibly online, rather than adhering to a strict hierarchy. We further found rate normalization effects in the looking behavior of participants who showed a strong behavioral preference for the morphosyntactic gender cue. This indicates that rate normalization effects are robust and potentially automatic. We discuss these results in light of theories of cue integration and the two-stage model of acoustic context effects
  • Kaufeld, G., Naumann, W., Meyer, A. S., Bosker, H. R., & Martin, A. E. (2019). Contextual speech rate influences morphosyntactic prediction and integration. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1701691.

    Abstract

    Understanding spoken language requires the integration and weighting of multiple cues, and may call on cue integration mechanisms that have been studied in other areas of perception. In the current study, we used eye-tracking (visual-world paradigm) to examine how contextual speech rate (a lower-level, perceptual cue) and morphosyntactic knowledge (a higher-level, linguistic cue) are iteratively combined and integrated. Results indicate that participants used contextual rate information immediately, which we interpret as evidence of perceptual inference and the generation of predictions about upcoming morphosyntactic information. Additionally, we observed that early rate effects remained active in the presence of later conflicting lexical information. This result demonstrates that (1) contextual speech rate functions as a cue to morphosyntactic inferences, even in the presence of subsequent disambiguating information; and (2) listeners iteratively use multiple sources of information to draw inferences and generate predictions during speech comprehension. We discuss the implication of these demonstrations for theories of language processing
  • Martin, A. E., & Doumas, L. A. A. (2019). Predicate learning in neural systems: Using oscillations to discover latent structure. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 29, 77-83. doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2019.04.008.

    Abstract

    Humans learn to represent complex structures (e.g. natural language, music, mathematics) from experience with their environments. Often such structures are latent, hidden, or not encoded in statistics about sensory representations alone. Accounts of human cognition have long emphasized the importance of structured representations, yet the majority of contemporary neural networks do not learn structure from experience. Here, we describe one way that structured, functionally symbolic representations can be instantiated in an artificial neural network. Then, we describe how such latent structures (viz. predicates) can be learned from experience with unstructured data. Our approach exploits two principles from psychology and neuroscience: comparison of representations, and the naturally occurring dynamic properties of distributed computing across neuronal assemblies (viz. neural oscillations). We discuss how the ability to learn predicates from experience, to represent information compositionally, and to extrapolate knowledge to unseen data is core to understanding and modeling the most complex human behaviors (e.g. relational reasoning, analogy, language processing, game play).
  • Martin, A. E., & Doumas, L. A. A. (2019). Tensors and compositionality in neural systems. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences. Advance online publication. doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0306.

    Abstract

    Neither neurobiological nor process models of meaning composition specify the operator through which constituent parts are bound together into compositional structures. In this paper, we argue that a neurophysiological computation system cannot achieve the compositionality exhibited in human thought and language if it were to rely on a multiplicative operator to perform binding, as the tensor product (TP)-based systems that have been widely adopted in cognitive science, neuroscience and artificial intelligence do. We show via simulation and two behavioural experiments that TPs violate variable-value independence, but human behaviour does not. Specifically, TPs fail to capture that in the statements fuzzy cactus and fuzzy penguin, both cactus and penguin are predicated by fuzzy(x) and belong to the set of fuzzy things, rendering these arguments similar to each other. Consistent with that thesis, people judged arguments that shared the same role to be similar, even when those arguments themselves (e.g., cacti and penguins) were judged to be dissimilar when in isolation. By contrast, the similarity of the TPs representing fuzzy(cactus) and fuzzy(penguin) was determined by the similarity of the arguments, which in this case approaches zero. Based on these results, we argue that neural systems that use TPs for binding cannot approximate how the human mind and brain represent compositional information during processing. We describe a contrasting binding mechanism that any physiological or artificial neural system could use to maintain independence between a role and its argument, a prerequisite for compositionality and, thus, for instantiating the expressive power of human thought and language in a neural system.

    Supplementary material

    Supplemental Material
  • Meyer, L., Sun, Y., & Martin, A. E. (2019). Synchronous, but not entrained: Exogenous and endogenous cortical rhythms of speech and language processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2019.1693050.

    Abstract

    Research on speech processing is often focused on a phenomenon termed “entrainment”, whereby the cortex shadows rhythmic acoustic information with oscillatory activity. Entrainment has been observed to a range of rhythms present in speech; in addition, synchronicity with abstract information (e.g. syntactic structures) has been observed. Entrainment accounts face two challenges: First, speech is not exactly rhythmic; second, synchronicity with representations that lack a clear acoustic counterpart has been described. We propose that apparent entrainment does not always result from acoustic information. Rather, internal rhythms may have functionalities in the generation of abstract representations and predictions. While acoustics may often provide punctate opportunities for entrainment, internal rhythms may also live a life of their own to infer and predict information, leading to intrinsic synchronicity – not to be counted as entrainment. This possibility may open up new research avenues in the psycho– and neurolinguistic study of language processing and language development.
  • Doumas, L. A. A., & Martin, A. E. (2018). Learning structured representations from experience. Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 69, 165-203. doi:10.1016/bs.plm.2018.10.002.

    Abstract

    How a system represents information tightly constrains the kinds of problems it can solve. Humans routinely solve problems that appear to require structured representations of stimulus properties and the relations between them. An account of how we might acquire such representations has central importance for theories of human cognition. We describe how a system can learn structured relational representations from initially unstructured inputs using comparison, sensitivity to time, and a modified Hebbian learning algorithm. We summarize how the model DORA (Discovery of Relations by Analogy) instantiates this approach, which we call predicate learning, as well as how the model captures several phenomena from cognitive development, relational reasoning, and language processing in the human brain. Predicate learning offers a link between models based on formal languages and models which learn from experience and provides an existence proof for how structured representations might be learned in the first place.
  • Lakens, D., Adolfi, F. G., Albers, C. J., Anvari, F., Apps, M. A. J., Argamon, S. E., Baguley, T., Becker, R. B., Benning, S. D., Bradford, D. E., Buchanan, E. M., Caldwell, A. R., Van Calster, B., Carlsson, R., Chen, S.-C., Chung, B., Colling, L. J., Collins, G. S., Crook, Z., Cross, E. S., Daniels, S., Danielsson, H., DeBruine, L., Dunleavy, D. J., Earp, B. D., Feist, M. I., Ferrelle, J. D., Field, J. G., Fox, N. W., Friesen, A., Gomes, C., Gonzalez-Marquez, M., Grange, J. A., Grieve, A. P., Guggenberger, R., Grist, J., Van Harmelen, A.-L., Hasselman, F., Hochard, K. D., Hoffarth, M. R., Holmes, N. P., Ingre, M., Isager, P. M., Isotalus, H. K., Johansson, C., Juszczyk, K., Kenny, D. A., Khalil, A. A., Konat, B., Lao, J., Larsen, E. G., Lodder, G. M. A., Lukavský, J., Madan, C. R., Manheim, D., Martin, S. R., Martin, A. E., Mayo, D. G., McCarthy, R. J., McConway, K., McFarland, C., Nio, A. Q. X., Nilsonne, G., De Oliveira, C. L., De Xivry, J.-J.-O., Parsons, S., Pfuhl, G., Quinn, K. A., Sakon, J. J., Saribay, S. A., Schneider, I. K., Selvaraju, M., Sjoerds, Z., Smith, S. G., Smits, T., Spies, J. R., Sreekumar, V., Steltenpohl, C. N., Stenhouse, N., Świątkowski, W., Vadillo, M. A., Van Assen, M. A. L. M., Williams, M. N., Williams, S. E., Williams, D. R., Yarkoni, T., Ziano, I., & Zwaan, R. A. (2018). Justify your alpha. Nature Human Behaviour, 2, 168-171. doi:10.1038/s41562-018-0311-x.

    Abstract

    In response to recommendations to redefine statistical significance to P ≤ 0.005, we propose that researchers should transparently report and justify all choices they make when designing a study, including the alpha level.
  • Martin, A. E. (2018). Cue integration during sentence comprehension: Electrophysiological evidence from ellipsis. PLoS One, 13(11): e0206616. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0206616.

    Abstract

    Language processing requires us to integrate incoming linguistic representations with representations of past input, often across intervening words and phrases. This computational situation has been argued to require retrieval of the appropriate representations from memory via a set of features or representations serving as retrieval cues. However, even within in a cue-based retrieval account of language comprehension, both the structure of retrieval cues and the particular computation that underlies direct-access retrieval are still underspecified. Evidence from two event-related brain potential (ERP) experiments that show cue-based interference from different types of linguistic representations during ellipsis comprehension are consistent with an architecture wherein different cue types are integrated, and where the interaction of cue with the recent contents of memory determines processing outcome, including expression of the interference effect in ERP componentry. I conclude that retrieval likely includes a computation where cues are integrated with the contents of memory via a linear weighting scheme, and I propose vector addition as a candidate formalization of this computation. I attempt to account for these effects and other related phenomena within a broader cue-based framework of language processing.
  • Martin, A. E., & McElree, B. (2018). Retrieval cues and syntactic ambiguity resolution: Speed-accuracy tradeoff evidence. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 33(6), 769-783. doi:10.1080/23273798.2018.1427877.

    Abstract

    Language comprehension involves coping with ambiguity and recovering from misanalysis. Syntactic ambiguity resolution is associated with increased reading times, a classic finding that has shaped theories of sentence processing. However, reaction times conflate the time it takes a process to complete with the quality of the behavior-related information available to the system. We therefore used the speed-accuracy tradeoff procedure (SAT) to derive orthogonal estimates of processing time and interpretation accuracy, and tested whether stronger retrieval cues (via semantic relatedness: neighed->horse vs. fell->horse) aid interpretation during recovery. On average, ambiguous sentences took 250ms longer (SAT rate) to interpret than unambiguous controls, demonstrating veridical differences in processing time. Retrieval cues more strongly related to the true subject always increased accuracy, regardless of ambiguity. These findings are consistent with a language processing architecture where cue-driven operations give rise to interpretation, and wherein diagnostic cues aid retrieval, regardless of parsing difficulty or structural uncertainty.
  • Doumas, L. A. A., Hamer, A., Puebla, G., & Martin, A. E. (2017). A theory of the detection and learning of structured representations of similarity and relative magnitude. In G. Gunzelmann, A. Howes, T. Tenbrink, & E. Davelaar (Eds.), Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2017) (pp. 1955-1960). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Responding to similarity, difference, and relative magnitude (SDM) is ubiquitous in the animal kingdom. However, humans seem unique in the ability to represent relative magnitude (‘more’/‘less’) and similarity (‘same’/‘different’) as abstract relations that take arguments (e.g., greater-than (x,y)). While many models use structured relational representations of magnitude and similarity, little progress has been made on how these representations arise. Models that developuse these representations assume access to computations of similarity and magnitude a priori, either encoded as features or as output of evaluation operators. We detail a mechanism for producing invariant responses to “same”, “different”, “more”, and “less” which can be exploited to compute similarity and magnitude as an evaluation operator. Using DORA (Doumas, Hummel, & Sandhofer, 2008), these invariant responses can serve be used to learn structured relational representations of relative magnitude and similarity from pixel images of simple shapes
  • Ito, A., Martin, A. E., & Nieuwland, M. S. (2017). How robust are prediction effects in language comprehension? Failure to replicate article-elicited N400 effects. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 32, 954-965. doi:10.1080/23273798.2016.1242761.

    Abstract

    Current psycholinguistic theory proffers prediction as a central, explanatory mechanism in language processing. However, widely-replicated prediction effects may not mean that prediction is necessary in language processing. As a case in point, C. D. Martin et al. [2013. Bilinguals reading in their second language do not predict upcoming words as native readers do. Journal of Memory and Language, 69 (4), 574 – 588. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2013.08.001] reported ERP evidence for prediction in native- but not in non-native speakers. Articles mismatching an expected noun elicited larger negativity in the N400 time window compared to articles matching the expected noun in native speakers only. We attempted to replicate these findings, but found no evidence for prediction irrespective of language nativeness. We argue that pre-activation of phonological form of upcoming nouns, as evidenced in article-elicited effects, may not be a robust phenomenon. A view of prediction as a necessary computation in language comprehension must be re-evaluated.
  • Ito, A., Martin, A. E., & Nieuwland, M. S. (2017). On predicting form and meaning in a second language. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43(4), 635-652. doi:10.1037/xlm0000315.

    Abstract

    We used event-related potentials (ERP) to investigate whether Spanish−English bilinguals preactivate form and meaning of predictable words. Participants read high-cloze sentence contexts (e.g., “The student is going to the library to borrow a . . .”), followed by the predictable word (book), a word that was form-related (hook) or semantically related (page) to the predictable word, or an unrelated word (sofa). Word stimulus onset synchrony (SOA) was 500 ms (Experiment 1) or 700 ms (Experiment 2). In both experiments, all nonpredictable words elicited classic N400 effects. Form-related and unrelated words elicited similar N400 effects. Semantically related words elicited smaller N400s than unrelated words, which however, did not depend on cloze value of the predictable word. Thus, we found no N400 evidence for preactivation of form or meaning at either SOA, unlike native-speaker results (Ito, Corley et al., 2016). However, non-native speakers did show the post-N400 posterior positivity (LPC effect) for form-related words like native speakers, but only at the slower SOA. This LPC effect increased gradually with cloze value of the predictable word. We do not interpret this effect as necessarily demonstrating prediction, but rather as evincing combined effects of top-down activation (contextual meaning) and bottom-up activation (form similarity) that result in activation of unseen words that fit the context well, thereby leading to an interpretation conflict reflected in the LPC. Although there was no evidence that non-native speakers preactivate form or meaning, non-native speakers nonetheless appear to use bottom-up and top-down information to constrain incremental interpretation much like native speakers do.
  • Ito, A., Martin, A. E., & Nieuwland, M. S. (2017). Why the A/AN prediction effect may be hard to replicate: A rebuttal to DeLong, Urbach & Kutas (2017). Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 32(8), 974-983. doi:10.1080/23273798.2017.1323112.
  • Martin, A. E., & Doumas, L. A. A. (2017). A mechanism for the cortical computation of hierarchical linguistic structure. PLoS Biology, 15(3): e2000663. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.2000663.

    Abstract

    Biological systems often detect species-specific signals in the environment. In humans, speech and language are species-specific signals of fundamental biological importance. To detect the linguistic signal, human brains must form hierarchical representations from a sequence of perceptual inputs distributed in time. What mechanism underlies this ability? One hypothesis is that the brain repurposed an available neurobiological mechanism when hierarchical linguistic representation became an efficient solution to a computational problem posed to the organism. Under such an account, a single mechanism must have the capacity to perform multiple, functionally related computations, e.g., detect the linguistic signal and perform other cognitive functions, while, ideally, oscillating like the human brain. We show that a computational model of analogy, built for an entirely different purpose—learning relational reasoning—processes sentences, represents their meaning, and, crucially, exhibits oscillatory activation patterns resembling cortical signals elicited by the same stimuli. Such redundancy in the cortical and machine signals is indicative of formal and mechanistic alignment between representational structure building and “cortical” oscillations. By inductive inference, this synergy suggests that the cortical signal reflects structure generation, just as the machine signal does. A single mechanism—using time to encode information across a layered network—generates the kind of (de)compositional representational hierarchy that is crucial for human language and offers a mechanistic linking hypothesis between linguistic representation and cortical computation
  • Martin, A. E., Huettig, F., & Nieuwland, M. S. (2017). Can structural priming answer the important questions about language? A commentary on Branigan and Pickering "An experimental approach to linguistic representation". Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40: e304. doi:10.1017/S0140525X17000528.

    Abstract

    While structural priming makes a valuable contribution to psycholinguistics, it does not allow direct observation of representation, nor escape “source ambiguity.” Structural priming taps into implicit memory representations and processes that may differ from what is used online. We question whether implicit memory for language can and should be equated with linguistic representation or with language processing.
  • Martin, A. E., Monahan, P. J., & Samuel, A. G. (2017). Prediction of agreement and phonetic overlap shape sublexical identification. Language and Speech, 60(3), 356-376. doi:10.1177/0023830916650714.

    Abstract

    The mapping between the physical speech signal and our internal representations is rarely straightforward. When faced with uncertainty, higher-order information is used to parse the signal and because of this, the lexicon and some aspects of sentential context have been shown to modulate the identification of ambiguous phonetic segments. Here, using a phoneme identification task (i.e., participants judged whether they heard [o] or [a] at the end of an adjective in a noun–adjective sequence), we asked whether grammatical gender cues influence phonetic identification and if this influence is shaped by the phonetic properties of the agreeing elements. In three experiments, we show that phrase-level gender agreement in Spanish affects the identification of ambiguous adjective-final vowels. Moreover, this effect is strongest when the phonetic characteristics of the element triggering agreement and the phonetic form of the agreeing element are identical. Our data are consistent with models wherein listeners generate specific predictions based on the interplay of underlying morphosyntactic knowledge and surface phonetic cues.
  • Nieuwland, M. S., & Martin, A. E. (2017). Neural oscillations and a nascent corticohippocampal theory of reference. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 29(5), 896-910. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01091.

    Abstract

    The ability to use words to refer to the world is vital to the communicative power of human language. In particular, the anaphoric use of words to refer to previously mentioned concepts (antecedents) allows dialogue to be coherent and meaningful. Psycholinguistic theory posits that anaphor comprehension involves reactivating a memory representation of the antecedent. Whereas this implies the involvement of recognition memory, or the mnemonic sub-routines by which people distinguish old from new, the neural processes for reference resolution are largely unknown. Here, we report time-frequency analysis of four EEG experiments to reveal the increased coupling of functional neural systems associated with referentially coherent expressions compared to referentially problematic expressions. Despite varying in modality, language, and type of referential expression, all experiments showed larger gamma-band power for referentially coherent expressions compared to referentially problematic expressions. Beamformer analysis in high-density Experiment 4 localised the gamma-band increase to posterior parietal cortex around 400-600 ms after anaphor-onset and to frontaltemporal cortex around 500-1000 ms. We argue that the observed gamma-band power increases reflect successful referential binding and resolution, which links incoming information to antecedents through an interaction between the brain’s recognition memory networks and frontal-temporal language network. We integrate these findings with previous results from patient and neuroimaging studies, and we outline a nascent cortico-hippocampal theory of reference.
  • Doumas, L. A., & Martin, A. E. (2016). Abstraction in time: Finding hierarchical linguistic structure in a model of relational processing. In A. Papafragou, D. Grodner, D. Mirman, & J. Trueswell (Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2016) (pp. 2279-2284). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Abstract mental representation is fundamental for human cognition. Forming such representations in time, especially from dynamic and noisy perceptual input, is a challenge for any processing modality, but perhaps none so acutely as for language processing. We show that LISA (Hummel & Holyaok, 1997) and DORA (Doumas, Hummel, & Sandhofer, 2008), models built to process and to learn structured (i.e., symbolic) rep resentations of conceptual properties and relations from unstructured inputs, show oscillatory activation during processing that is highly similar to the cortical activity elicited by the linguistic stimuli from Ding et al.(2016). We argue, as Ding et al.(2016), that this activation reflects formation of hierarchical linguistic representation, and furthermore, that the kind of computational mechanisms in LISA/DORA (e.g., temporal binding by systematic asynchrony of firing) may underlie formation of abstract linguistic representations in the human brain. It may be this repurposing that allowed for the generation or mergence of hierarchical linguistic structure, and therefore, human language, from extant cognitive and neural systems. We conclude that models of thinking and reasoning and models of language processing must be integrated —not only for increased plausiblity, but in order to advance both fields towards a larger integrative model of human cognition
  • Ito, A., Corley, M., Pickering, M. J., Martin, A. E., & Nieuwland, M. S. (2016). Predicting form and meaning: Evidence from brain potentials. Journal of Memory and Language, 86, 157-171. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2015.10.007.

    Abstract

    We used ERPs to investigate the pre-activation of form and meaning in language comprehension. Participants read high-cloze sentence contexts (e.g., “The student is going to the library to borrow a…”), followed by a word that was predictable (book), form-related (hook) or semantically related (page) to the predictable word, or unrelated (sofa). At a 500 ms SOA (Experiment 1), semantically related words, but not form-related words, elicited a reduced N400 compared to unrelated words. At a 700 ms SOA (Experiment 2), semantically related words and form-related words elicited reduced N400 effects, but the effect for form-related words occurred in very high-cloze sentences only. At both SOAs, form-related words elicited an enhanced, post-N400 posterior positivity (Late Positive Component effect). The N400 effects suggest that readers can pre-activate meaning and form information for highly predictable words, but form pre-activation is more limited than meaning pre-activation. The post-N400 LPC effect suggests that participants detected the form similarity between expected and encountered input. Pre-activation of word forms crucially depends upon the time that readers have to make predictions, in line with production-based accounts of linguistic prediction.
  • Martin, A. E. (2016). Language processing as cue integration: Grounding the psychology of language in perception and neurophysiology. Frontiers in Psychology, 7: 120. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00120.

    Abstract

    I argue that cue integration, a psychophysiological mechanism from vision and multisensory perception, offers a computational linking hypothesis between psycholinguistic theory and neurobiological models of language. I propose that this mechanism, which incorporates probabilistic estimates of a cue's reliability, might function in language processing from the perception of a phoneme to the comprehension of a phrase structure. I briefly consider the implications of the cue integration hypothesis for an integrated theory of language that includes acquisition, production, dialogue and bilingualism, while grounding the hypothesis in canonical neural computation.
  • Martin, A. E., Nieuwland, M. S., & Carrieras, M. (2014). Agreement attraction during comprehension of grammatical sentences: ERP evidence from ellipsis. Brain and Language, 135, 42-51. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2014.05.001.

    Abstract

    Successful dependency resolution during language comprehension relies on accessing certain representations in memory, and not others. We recently reported event-related potential (ERP) evidence that syntactically unavailable, intervening attractor-nouns interfered during comprehension of Spanish noun-phrase ellipsis (the determiner otra/otro): grammatically correct determiners that mismatched the gender of attractor-nouns elicited a sustained negativity as also observed for incorrect determiners (Martin, Nieuwland, & Carreiras, 2012). The current study sought to extend this novel finding in sentences containing object-extracted relative clauses, where the antecedent may be less prominent. Whereas correct determiners that matched the gender of attractor-nouns now elicited an early anterior negativity as also observed for mismatching determiners, the previously reported interaction pattern was replicated in P600 responses to subsequent words. Our results suggest that structural and gender information is simultaneously taken into account, providing further evidence for retrieval interference during comprehension of grammatical sentences.
  • Davidson, D., & Martin, A. E. (2013). Modeling accuracy as a function of response time with the generalized linear mixed effects model. Acta Psychologica, 144(1), 83-96. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2013.04.016.

    Abstract

    In psycholinguistic studies using error rates as a response measure, response times (RT) are most often analyzed independently of the error rate, although it is widely recognized that they are related. In this paper we present a mixed effects logistic regression model for the error rate that uses RT as a trial-level fixed- and random-effect regression input. Production data from a translation–recall experiment are analyzed as an example. Several model comparisons reveal that RT improves the fit of the regression model for the error rate. Two simulation studies then show how the mixed effects regression model can identify individual participants for whom (a) faster responses are more accurate, (b) faster responses are less accurate, or (c) there is no relation between speed and accuracy. These results show that this type of model can serve as a useful adjunct to traditional techniques, allowing psycholinguistic researchers to examine more closely the relationship between RT and accuracy in individual subjects and better account for the variability which may be present, as well as a preliminary step to more advanced RT–accuracy modeling.
  • Nieuwland, M. S., Martin, A. E., & Carreiras, M. (2013). Event-related brain potential evidence for animacy processing asymmetries during sentence comprehension. Brain and Language, 126(2), 151-158. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2013.04.005.

    Abstract

    The animacy distinction is deeply rooted in the language faculty. A key example is differential object marking, the phenomenon where animate sentential objects receive specific marking. We used event-related potentials to examine the neural processing consequences of case-marking violations on animate and inanimate direct objects in Spanish. Inanimate objects with incorrect prepositional case marker ‘a’ (‘al suelo’) elicited a P600 effect compared to unmarked objects, consistent with previous literature. However, animate objects without the required prepositional case marker (‘el obispo’) only elicited an N400 effect compared to marked objects. This novel finding, an exclusive N400 modulation by a straightforward grammatical rule violation, does not follow from extant neurocognitive models of sentence processing, and mirrors unexpected “semantic P600” effects for thematically problematic sentences. These results may reflect animacy asymmetry in competition for argument prominence: following the article, thematic interpretation difficulties are elicited only by unexpectedly animate objects.
  • Martin, A. E., Nieuwland, M. S., & Carreiras, M. (2012). Event-related brain potentials index cue-based retrieval interference during sentence comprehension. NeuroImage, 59(2), 1859-1869. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.08.057.

    Abstract

    Successful language use requires access to products of past processing within an evolving discourse. A central issue for any neurocognitive theory of language then concerns the role of memory variables during language processing. Under a cue-based retrieval account of language comprehension, linguistic dependency resolution (e.g., retrieving antecedents) is subject to interference from other information in the sentence, especially information that occurs between the words that form the dependency (e.g., between the antecedent and the retrieval site). Retrieval interference may then shape processing complexity as a function of the match of the information at retrieval with the antecedent versus other recent or similar items in memory. To address these issues, we studied the online processing of ellipsis in Castilian Spanish, a language with morphological gender agreement. We recorded event-related brain potentials while participants read sentences containing noun-phrase ellipsis indicated by the determiner otro/a (‘another’). These determiners had a grammatically correct or incorrect gender with respect to their antecedent nouns that occurred earlier in the sentence. Moreover, between each antecedent and determiner, another noun phrase occurred that was structurally unavailable as an antecedent and that matched or mismatched the gender of the antecedent (i.e., a local agreement attractor). In contrast to extant P600 results on agreement violation processing, and inconsistent with predictions from neurocognitive models of sentence processing, grammatically incorrect determiners evoked a sustained, broadly distributed negativity compared to correct ones between 400 and 1000 ms after word onset, possibly related to sustained negativities as observed for referential processing difficulties. Crucially, this effect was modulated by the attractor: an increased negativity was observed for grammatically correct determiners that did not match the gender of the attractor, suggesting that structurally unavailable noun phrases were at least temporarily considered for grammatically correct ellipsis. These results constitute the first ERP evidence for cue-based retrieval interference during comprehension of grammatical sentences.
  • Nieuwland, M. S., Martin, A. E., & Carreiras, M. (2012). Brain regions that process case: Evidence from basque. Human Brain Mapping, 33(11), 2509-2520. doi:10.1002/hbm.21377.

    Abstract

    The aim of this event-related fMRI study was to investigate the cortical networks involved in case processing, an operation that is crucial to language comprehension yet whose neural underpinnings are not well-understood. What is the relationship of these networks to those that serve other aspects of syntactic and semantic processing? Participants read Basque sentences that contained case violations, number agreement violations or semantic anomalies, or that were both syntactically and semantically correct. Case violations elicited activity increases, compared to correct control sentences, in a set of parietal regions including the posterior cingulate, the precuneus, and the left and right inferior parietal lobules. Number agreement violations also elicited activity increases in left and right inferior parietal regions, and additional activations in the left and right middle frontal gyrus. Regions-of-interest analyses showed that almost all of the clusters that were responsive to case or number agreement violations did not differentiate between these two. In contrast, the left and right anterior inferior frontal gyrus and the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex were only sensitive to semantic violations. Our results suggest that whereas syntactic and semantic anomalies clearly recruit distinct neural circuits, case, and number violations recruit largely overlapping neural circuits and that the distinction between the two rests on the relative contributions of parietal and prefrontal regions, respectively. Furthermore, our results are consistent with recently reported contributions of bilateral parietal and dorsolateral brain regions to syntactic processing, pointing towards potential extensions of current neurocognitive theories of language. Hum Brain Mapp, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
  • Nieuwland, M. S., & Martin, A. E. (2012). If the real world were irrelevant, so to speak: The role of propositional truth-value in counterfactual sentence comprehension. Cognition, 122(1), 102-109. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2011.09.001.

    Abstract

    Propositional truth-value can be a defining feature of a sentence’s relevance to the unfolding discourse, and establishing propositional truth-value in context can be key to successful interpretation. In the current study, we investigate its role in the comprehension of counterfactual conditionals, which describe imaginary consequences of hypothetical events, and are thought to require keeping in mind both what is true and what is false. Pre-stored real-world knowledge may therefore intrude upon and delay counterfactual comprehension, which is predicted by some accounts of discourse comprehension, and has been observed during online comprehension. The impact of propositional truth-value may thus be delayed in counterfactual conditionals, as also claimed for sentences containing other types of logical operators (e.g., negation, scalar quantifiers). In an event-related potential (ERP) experiment, we investigated the impact of propositional truth-value when described consequences are both true and predictable given the counterfactual premise. False words elicited larger N400 ERPs than true words, in negated counterfactual sentences (e.g., “If N.A.S.A. had not developed its Apollo Project, the first country to land on the moon would have been Russia/America”) and real-world sentences (e.g., “Because N.A.S.A. developed its Apollo Project, the first country to land on the moon was America/Russia”) alike. These indistinguishable N400 effects of propositional truth-value, elicited by opposite word pairs, argue against disruptions by real-world knowledge during counterfactual comprehension, and suggest that incoming words are mapped onto the counterfactual context without any delay. Thus, provided a sufficiently constraining context, propositional truth-value rapidly impacts ongoing semantic processing, be the proposition factual or counterfactual.
  • Martin, A. E., & McElree, B. (2011). Direct-access retrieval during sentence comprehension: Evidence from Sluicing. Journal of Memory and Language, 64(4), 327-343. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2010.12.006.

    Abstract

    Language comprehension requires recovering meaning from linguistic form, even when the mapping between the two is indirect. A canonical example is ellipsis, the omission of information that is subsequently understood without being overtly pronounced. Comprehension of ellipsis requires retrieval of an antecedent from memory, without prior prediction, a property which enables the study of retrieval in situ ( Martin and McElree, 2008 and Martin and McElree, 2009). Sluicing, or inflectional-phrase ellipsis, in the presence of a conjunction, presents a test case where a competing antecedent position is syntactically licensed, in contrast with most cases of nonadjacent dependency, including verb–phrase ellipsis. We present speed–accuracy tradeoff and eye-movement data inconsistent with the hypothesis that retrieval is accomplished via a syntactically guided search, a particular variant of search not examined in past research. The observed timecourse profiles are consistent with the hypothesis that antecedents are retrieved via a cue-dependent direct-access mechanism susceptible to general memory variables.
  • Martin, A. E., & McElree, B. (2009). Memory operations that support language comprehension: Evidence from verb-phrase ellipsis. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 35(5), 1231-1239. doi:10.1037/a0016271.

    Abstract

    Comprehension of verb-phrase ellipsis (VPE) requires reevaluation of recently processed constituents, which often necessitates retrieval of information about the elided constituent from memory. A. E. Martin and B. McElree (2008) argued that representations formed during comprehension are content addressable and that VPE antecedents are retrieved from memory via a cue-dependent direct-access pointer rather than via a search process. This hypothesis was further tested by manipulating the location of interfering material—either before the onset of the antecedent (proactive interference; PI) or intervening between antecedent and ellipsis site (retroactive interference; RI). The speed–accuracy tradeoff procedure was used to measure the time course of VPE processing. The location of the interfering material affected VPE comprehension accuracy: RI conditions engendered lower accuracy than PI conditions. Crucially, location did not affect the speed of processing VPE, which is inconsistent with both forward and backward search mechanisms. The observed time-course profiles are consistent with the hypothesis that VPE antecedents are retrieved via a cue-dependent direct-access operation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Pylkkänen, L., Martin, A. E., McElree, B., & Smart, A. (2009). The Anterior Midline Field: Coercion or decision making? Brain and Language, 108(3), 184-190. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2008.06.006.

    Abstract

    To study the neural bases of semantic composition in language processing without confounds from syntactic composition, recent magnetoencephalography (MEG) studies have investigated the processing of constructions that exhibit some type of syntax-semantics mismatch. The most studied case of such a mismatch is complement coercion; expressions such as the author began the book, where an entity-denoting noun phrase is coerced into an eventive meaning in order to match the semantic properties of the event-selecting verb (e.g., ‘the author began reading/writing the book’). These expressions have been found to elicit increased activity in the Anterior Midline Field (AMF), an MEG component elicited at frontomedial sensors at ∼400 ms after the onset of the coercing noun [Pylkkänen, L., & McElree, B. (2007). An MEG study of silent meaning. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19, 11]. Thus, the AMF constitutes a potential neural correlate of coercion. However, the AMF was generated in ventromedial prefrontal regions, which are heavily associated with decision-making. This raises the possibility that, instead of semantic processing, the AMF effect may have been related to the experimental task, which was a sensicality judgment. We tested this hypothesis by assessing the effect of coercion when subjects were simply reading for comprehension, without a decision-task. Additionally, we investigated coercion in an adjectival rather than a verbal environment to further generalize the findings. Our results show that an AMF effect of coercion is elicited without a decision-task and that the effect also extends to this novel syntactic environment. We conclude that in addition to its role in non-linguistic higher cognition, ventromedial prefrontal regions contribute to the resolution of syntax-semantics mismatches in language processing.
  • Ashby, J., & Martin, A. E. (2008). Prosodic phonological representations early in visual word recognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 34(1), 224-236. doi:10.1037/0096-1523.34.1.224.

    Abstract

    Two experiments examined the nature of the phonological representations used during visual word recognition. We tested whether a minimality constraint (R. Frost, 1998) limits the complexity of early representations to a simple string of phonemes. Alternatively, readers might activate elaborated representations that include prosodic syllable information before lexical access. In a modified lexical decision task (Experiment 1), words were preceded by parafoveal previews that were congruent with a target's initial syllable as well as previews that contained 1 letter more or less than the initial syllable. Lexical decision times were faster in the syllable congruent conditions than in the incongruent conditions. In Experiment 2, we recorded brain electrical potentials (electroencephalograms) during single word reading in a masked priming paradigm. The event-related potential waveform elicited in the syllable congruent condition was more positive 250-350 ms posttarget compared with the waveform elicited in the syllable incongruent condition. In combination, these experiments demonstrate that readers process prosodic syllable information early in visual word recognition in English. They offer further evidence that skilled readers routinely activate elaborated, speechlike phonological representations during silent reading. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Martin, A. E., & McElree, B. (2008). A content-addressable pointer mechanism underlies comprehension of verb-phrase ellipsis. Journal of Memory and Language, 58(3), 879-906. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2007.06.010.

    Abstract

    Interpreting a verb-phrase ellipsis (VP ellipsis) requires accessing an antecedent in memory, and then integrating a representation of this antecedent into the local context. We investigated the online interpretation of VP ellipsis in an eye-tracking experiment and four speed–accuracy tradeoff experiments. To investigate whether the antecedent for a VP ellipsis is accessed with a search or direct-access retrieval process, Experiments 1 and 2 measured the effect of the distance between an ellipsis and its antecedent on the speed and accuracy of comprehension. Accuracy was lower with longer distances, indicating that interpolated material reduced the quality of retrieved information about the antecedent. However, contra a search process, distance did not affect the speed of interpreting ellipsis. This pattern suggests that antecedent representations are content-addressable and retrieved with a direct-access process. To determine whether interpreting ellipsis involves copying antecedent information into the ellipsis site, Experiments 3–5 manipulated the length and complexity of the antecedent. Some types of antecedent complexity lowered accuracy, notably, the number of discourse entities in the antecedent. However, neither antecedent length nor complexity affected the speed of interpreting the ellipsis. This pattern is inconsistent with a copy operation, and it suggests that ellipsis interpretation may involve a pointer to extant structures in memory.

Share this page