Andrea E. Martin


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  • 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.


    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.
  • 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.


    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.


    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.

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