Andrea E. Martin

Publications

Displaying 1 - 21 of 21
  • Cutter, M. G., Martin, A. E., & Sturt, P. (2020). Capitalization interacts with syntactic complexity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 46(6), 1146-1164. doi:10.1037/xlm0000780.

    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.
  • Cutter, M. G., Martin, A. E., & Sturt, P. (2020). Readers detect an low-level phonological violation between two parafoveal words. Cognition, 204: 104395. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104395.

    Abstract

    In two eye-tracking studies we investigated whether readers can detect a violation of the phonological-grammatical convention for the indefinite article an to be followed by a word beginning with a vowel when these two words appear in the parafovea. Across two experiments participants read sentences in which the word an was followed by a parafoveal preview that was either correct (e.g. Icelandic), incorrect and represented a phonological violation (e.g. Mongolian), or incorrect without representing a phonological violation (e.g. Ethiopian), with this parafoveal preview changing to the target word as participants made a saccade into the space preceding an. Our data suggests that participants detected the phonological violation while the target word was still two words to the right of fixation, with participants making more regressions from the previewed word and having longer go-past times on this word when they received a violation preview as opposed to a non-violation preview. We argue that participants were attempting to perform aspects of sentence integration on the basis of low-level orthographic information from the previewed word.

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  • Cutter, M. G., Martin, A. E., & Sturt, P. (2020). The activation of contextually predictable words in syntactically illegal positions. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73(9), 1423-1430. doi:10.1177/1747021820911021.

    Abstract

    We present an eye-tracking study testing a hypothesis emerging from several theories of prediction during language processing, whereby predictable words should be skipped more than unpredictable words even in syntactically illegal positions. Participants read sentences in which a target word became predictable by a certain point (e.g., “bone” is 92% predictable given, “The dog buried his. . .”), with the next word actually being an intensifier (e.g., “really”), which a noun cannot follow. The target noun remained predictable to appear later in the sentence. We used the boundary paradigm to present the predictable noun or an alternative unpredictable noun (e.g., “food”) directly after the intensifier, until participants moved beyond the intensifier, at which point the noun changed to a syntactically legal word. Participants also read sentences in which predictable or unpredictable nouns appeared in syntactically legal positions. A Bayesian linear-mixed model suggested a 5.7% predictability effect on skipping of nouns in syntactically legal positions, and a 3.1% predictability effect on skipping of nouns in illegal positions. We discuss our findings in relation to theories of lexical prediction during reading.

    Additional information

    OSF data
  • Doumas, L. A. A., Martin, A. E., & Hummel, J. E. (2020). Relation learning in a neurocomputational architecture supports cross-domain transfer. In S. Denison, M. Mack, Y. Xu, & B. C. Armstrong (Eds.), Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Virtual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2020) (pp. 932-937). Montreal, QB: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Humans readily generalize, applying prior knowledge to novel situations and stimuli. Advances in machine learning have begun to approximate and even surpass human performance, but these systems struggle to generalize what they have learned to untrained situations. We present a model based on wellestablished neurocomputational principles that demonstrates human-level generalisation. This model is trained to play one video game (Breakout) and performs one-shot generalisation to a new game (Pong) with different characteristics. The model generalizes because it learns structured representations that are functionally symbolic (viz., a role-filler binding calculus) from unstructured training data. It does so without feedback, and without requiring that structured representations are specified a priori. Specifically, the model uses neural co-activation to discover which characteristics of the input are invariant and to learn relational predicates, and oscillatory regularities in network firing to bind predicates to arguments. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of human-like generalisation in a machine system that does not assume structured representa- tions to begin with.
  • Hashemzadeh, M., Kaufeld, G., White, M., Martin, A. E., & Fyshe, A. (2020). From language to language-ish: How brain-like is an LSTM representation of nonsensical language stimuli? In Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020 (pp. 645-655).

    Abstract

    The representations generated by many mod- els of language (word embeddings, recurrent neural networks and transformers) correlate to brain activity recorded while people read. However, these decoding results are usually based on the brain’s reaction to syntactically and semantically sound language stimuli. In this study, we asked: how does an LSTM (long short term memory) language model, trained (by and large) on semantically and syntac- tically intact language, represent a language sample with degraded semantic or syntactic information? Does the LSTM representation still resemble the brain’s reaction? We found that, even for some kinds of nonsensical lan- guage, there is a statistically significant rela- tionship between the brain’s activity and the representations of an LSTM. This indicates that, at least in some instances, LSTMs and the human brain handle nonsensical data similarly.
  • Kaufeld, G., Naumann, W., Meyer, A. S., Bosker, H. R., & Martin, A. E. (2020). Contextual speech rate influences morphosyntactic prediction and integration. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 35(7), 933-948. 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
  • Kaufeld, G., Ravenschlag, A., Meyer, A. S., Martin, A. E., & Bosker, H. R. (2020). Knowledge-based and signal-based cues are weighted flexibly during spoken language comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 46(3), 549-562. 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., Bosker, H. R., Ten Oever, S., Alday, P. M., Meyer, A. S., & Martin, A. E. (2020). Linguistic structure and meaning organize neural oscillations into a content-specific hierarchy. Journal of Neuroscience, 49(2), 9467-9475. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0302-20.2020.

    Abstract

    Neural oscillations track linguistic information during speech comprehension (e.g., Ding et al., 2016; Keitel et al., 2018), and are known to be modulated by acoustic landmarks and speech intelligibility (e.g., Doelling et al., 2014; Zoefel & VanRullen, 2015). However, studies investigating linguistic tracking have either relied on non-naturalistic isochronous stimuli or failed to fully control for prosody. Therefore, it is still unclear whether low frequency activity tracks linguistic structure during natural speech, where linguistic structure does not follow such a palpable temporal pattern. Here, we measured electroencephalography (EEG) and manipulated the presence of semantic and syntactic information apart from the timescale of their occurrence, while carefully controlling for the acoustic-prosodic and lexical-semantic information in the signal. EEG was recorded while 29 adult native speakers (22 women, 7 men) listened to naturally-spoken Dutch sentences, jabberwocky controls with morphemes and sentential prosody, word lists with lexical content but no phrase structure, and backwards acoustically-matched controls. Mutual information (MI) analysis revealed sensitivity to linguistic content: MI was highest for sentences at the phrasal (0.8-1.1 Hz) and lexical timescale (1.9-2.8 Hz), suggesting that the delta-band is modulated by lexically-driven combinatorial processing beyond prosody, and that linguistic content (i.e., structure and meaning) organizes neural oscillations beyond the timescale and rhythmicity of the stimulus. This pattern is consistent with neurophysiologically inspired models of language comprehension (Martin, 2016, 2020; Martin & Doumas, 2017) where oscillations encode endogenously generated linguistic content over and above exogenous or stimulus-driven timing and rhythm information.
  • Martin, A. E. (2020). A compositional neural architecture for language. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 32(8), 1407-1427. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01552.

    Abstract

    Hierarchical structure and compositionality imbue human language with unparalleled expressive power and set it apart from other perception–action systems. However, neither formal nor neurobiological models account for how these defining computational properties might arise in a physiological system. I attempt to reconcile hierarchy and compositionality with principles from cell assembly computation in neuroscience; the result is an emerging theory of how the brain could convert distributed perceptual representations into hierarchical structures across multiple timescales while representing interpretable incremental stages of (de) compositional meaning. The model's architecture—a multidimensional coordinate system based on neurophysiological models of sensory processing—proposes that a manifold of neural trajectories encodes sensory, motor, and abstract linguistic states. Gain modulation, including inhibition, tunes the path in the manifold in accordance with behavior and is how latent structure is inferred. As a consequence, predictive information about upcoming sensory input during production and comprehension is available without a separate operation. The proposed processing mechanism is synthesized from current models of neural entrainment to speech, concepts from systems neuroscience and category theory, and a symbolic-connectionist computational model that uses time and rhythm to structure information. I build on evidence from cognitive neuroscience and computational modeling that suggests a formal and mechanistic alignment between structure building and neural oscillations and moves toward unifying basic insights from linguistics and psycholinguistics with the currency of neural computation.
  • Meyer, L., Sun, Y., & Martin, A. E. (2020). “Entraining” to speech, generating language? Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 35(9), 1138-1148. doi:10.1080/23273798.2020.1827155.

    Abstract

    Could meaning be read from acoustics, or from the refraction rate of pyramidal cells innervated by the cochlea, everyone would be an omniglot. Speech does not contain sufficient acoustic cues to identify linguistic units such as morphemes, words, and phrases without prior knowledge. Our target article (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, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1080/23273798.2019.1693050) thus questioned the concept of “entrainment” of neural oscillations to such units. We suggested that synchronicity with these points to the existence of endogenous functional “oscillators”—or population rhythmic activity in Giraud’s (2020) terms—that underlie the inference, generation, and prediction of linguistic units. Here, we address a series of inspirational commentaries by our colleagues. As apparent from these, some issues raised by our target article have already been raised in the literature. Psycho– and neurolinguists might still benefit from our reply, as “oscillations are an old concept in vision and motor functions, but a new one in linguistics” (Giraud, A.-L. 2020. Oscillations for all A commentary on Meyer, Sun & Martin (2020). Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 1–8).
  • Meyer, L., Sun, Y., & Martin, A. E. (2020). Synchronous, but not entrained: Exogenous and endogenous cortical rhythms of speech and language processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 35(9), 1089-1099. 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.
  • 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, 375(1791): 20190305. 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.
  • 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., & Baggio, G. (2019). Modeling meaning composition from formalism to mechanism. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 375: 20190298. doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0298.

    Abstract

    Human thought and language have extraordinary expressive power because meaningful parts can be assembled into more complex semantic structures. This partly underlies our ability to compose meanings into endlessly novel configurations, and sets us apart from other species and current computing devices. Crucially, human behaviour, including language use and linguistic data, indicates that composing parts into complex structures does not threaten the existence of constituent parts as independent units in the system: parts and wholes exist simultaneously yet independently from one another in the mind and brain. This independence is evident in human behaviour, but it seems at odds with what is known about the brain's exquisite sensitivity to statistical patterns: everyday language use is productive and expressive precisely because it can go beyond statistical regularities. Formal theories in philosophy and linguistics explain this fact by assuming that language and thought are compositional: systems of representations that separate a variable (or role) from its values (fillers), such that the meaning of a complex expression is a function of the values assigned to the variables. The debate on whether and how compositional systems could be implemented in minds, brains and machines remains vigorous. However, it has not yet resulted in mechanistic models of semantic composition: how, then, are the constituents of thoughts and sentences put and held together? We review and discuss current efforts at understanding this problem, and we chart possible routes for future research.
  • 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, 375(1791): 20190306. 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.

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    Supplemental Material
  • 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. and 68 moreLakens, 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.
  • 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.

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