Incremental syntactic tree formation in human sentence processing: A cognitive architecture based on activation decay and simulated annealing
Kempen, G., & Vosse, T.
Incremental syntactic tree formation in human sentence processing: A cognitive architecture based on activation decay and simulated annealing. Connection Science, 1
(3), 273-290. doi:10.1080/09540098908915642.
A new cognitive architecture is proposed for the syntactic aspects of human sentence processing. The architecture, called Unification Space, is biologically inspired but not based on neural nets. Instead it relies on biosynthesis as a basic metaphor. We use simulated annealing as an optimization technique which searches for the best configuration of isolated syntactic segments or subtrees in the final parse tree. The gradually decaying activation of individual syntactic nodes determines the ‘global excitation level’ of the system. This parameter serves the function of ‘computational temperature’ in simulated annealing. We have built a computer implementation of the architecture which simulates well-known sentence understanding phenomena. We report successful simulations of the psycholinguistic effects of clause embedding, minimal attachment, right association and lexical ambiguity. In addition, we simulated impaired sentence understanding as observable in agrammatic patients. Since the Unification Space allows for contextual (semantic and pragmatic) influences on the syntactic tree formation process, it belongs to the class of interactive sentence processing models.