Publications

Displaying 1 - 20 of 429
  • Acheson, D. J., Hamidi, M., Binder, J. R., & Postle, B. R. (2011). A common neural substrate for language production and verbal working memory. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23(6), 1358-1367. doi:10.1162/jocn.2010.21519.

    Abstract

    Verbal working memory (VWM), the ability to maintain and manipulate representations of speech sounds over short periods, is held by some influential models to be independent from the systems responsible for language production and comprehension [e.g., Baddeley, A. D. Working memory, thought, and action. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2007]. We explore the alternative hypothesis that maintenance in VWM is subserved by temporary activation of the language production system [Acheson, D. J., & MacDonald, M. C. Verbal working memory and language production: Common approaches to the serial ordering of verbal information. Psychological Bulletin, 135, 50–68, 2009b]. Specifically, we hypothesized that for stimuli lacking a semantic representation (e.g., nonwords such as mun), maintenance in VWM can be achieved by cycling information back and forth between the stages of phonological encoding and articulatory planning. First, fMRI was used to identify regions associated with two different stages of language production planning: the posterior superior temporal gyrus (pSTG) for phonological encoding (critical for VWM of nonwords) and the middle temporal gyrus (MTG) for lexical–semantic retrieval (not critical for VWM of nonwords). Next, in the same subjects, these regions were targeted with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) during language production and VWM task performance. Results showed that rTMS to the pSTG, but not the MTG, increased error rates on paced reading (a language production task) and on delayed serial recall of nonwords (a test of VWM). Performance on a lexical–semantic retrieval task (picture naming), in contrast, was significantly sensitive to rTMS of the MTG. Because rTMS was guided by language production-related activity, these results provide the first causal evidence that maintenance in VWM directly depends on the long-term representations and processes used in speech production.
  • Acheson, D. J., & MacDonald, M. C. (2011). The rhymes that the reader perused confused the meaning: Phonological effects during on-line sentence comprehension. Journal of Memory and Language, 65, 193-207. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2011.04.006.

    Abstract

    Research on written language comprehension has generally assumed that the phonological properties of a word have little effect on sentence comprehension beyond the processes of word recognition. Two experiments investigated this assumption. Participants silently read relative clauses in which two pairs of words either did or did not have a high degree of phonological overlap. Participants were slower reading and less accurate comprehending the overlap sentences compared to the non-overlapping controls, even though sentences were matched for plausibility and differed by only two words across overlap conditions. A comparison across experiments showed that the overlap effects were larger in the more difficult object relative than in subject relative sentences. The reading patterns showed that phonological representations affect not only memory for recently encountered sentences but also the developing sentence interpretation during on-line processing. Implications for theories of sentence processing and memory are discussed. Highlights The work investigates the role of phonological information in sentence comprehension, which is poorly understood. ► Subjects read object and subject relative clauses +/- phonological overlap in two pairs of words. ► Unique features of the study were online reading measures and pinpointed overlap locations. ► Phonological overlap slowed reading speed and impaired sentence comprehension, especially for object relatives. ► The results show a key role for phonological information during online comprehension, not just later sentence memory.
  • Acheson, D. J., Postle, B. R., & MacDonald, M. C. (2011). The effect of concurrent semantic categorization on delayed serial recall. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 37, 44-59. doi:10.1037/a0021205.

    Abstract

    The influence of semantic processing on the serial ordering of items in short-term memory was explored using a novel dual-task paradigm. Participants engaged in 2 picture-judgment tasks while simultaneously performing delayed serial recall. List material varied in the presence of phonological overlap (Experiments 1 and 2) and in semantic content (concrete words in Experiment 1 and 3; nonwords in Experiments 2 and 3). Picture judgments varied in the extent to which they required accessing visual semantic information (i.e., semantic categorization and line orientation judgments). Results showed that, relative to line-orientation judgments, engaging in semantic categorization judgments increased the proportion of item-ordering errors for concrete lists but did not affect error proportions for nonword lists. Furthermore, although more ordering errors were observed for phonologically similar relative to dissimilar lists, no interactions were observed between the phonological overlap and picture-judgment task manipulations. These results demonstrate that lexical-semantic representations can affect the serial ordering of items in short-term memory. Furthermore, the dual-task paradigm provides a new method for examining when and how semantic representations affect memory performance.
  • Adam, R., Orfanidou, E., McQueen, J. M., & Morgan, G. (2011). Sign language comprehension: Insights from misperceptions of different phonological parameters. In R. Channon, & H. Van der Hulst (Eds.), Formational units in sign languages (pp. 87-106). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter and Ishara Press.
  • Ambridge, B., Pine, J. M., & Rowland, C. F. (2011). Children use verb semantics to retreat from overgeneralization errors: A novel verb grammaticality judgment study. Cognitive Linguistics, 22(2), 303-323. doi:10.1515/cogl.2011.012.

    Abstract

    Whilst certain verbs may appear in both the intransitive inchoative and the transitive causative constructions (The ball rolled/The man rolled the ball), others may appear in only the former (The man laughed/*The joke laughed the man). Some accounts argue that children acquire these restrictions using only (or mainly) statistical learning mechanisms such as entrenchment and pre-emption. Others have argued that verb semantics are also important. To test these competing accounts, adults (Experiment 1) and children aged 5–6 and 9–10 (Experiment 2) were taught novel verbs designed to be construed — on the basis of their semantics — as either intransitive-only or alternating. In support of the latter claim, participants' grammaticality judgments revealed that even the youngest group respected these semantic constraints. Frequency (entrenchment) effects were observed for familiar, but not novel, verbs (Experiment 1). We interpret these findings in the light of a new theoretical account designed to yield effects of both verb semantics and entrenchment/pre-emption.
  • Araújo, S., Inácio, F., Francisco, A., Faísca, L., Petersson, K. M., & Reis, A. (2011). Component processes subserving rapid automatized naming in dyslexic and non-dyslexic readers. Dyslexia, 17, 242-255. doi:10.1002/dys.433.

    Abstract

    The current study investigated which time components of rapid automatized naming (RAN) predict group differences between dyslexic and non-dyslexic readers (matched for age and reading level), and how these components relate to different reading measures. Subjects performed two RAN tasks (letters and objects), and data were analyzed through a response time analysis. Our results demonstrated that impaired RAN performance in dyslexic readers mainly stem from enhanced inter-item pause times and not from difficulties at the level of post-access motor production (expressed as articulation rates). Moreover, inter-item pause times account for a significant proportion of variance in reading ability in addition to the effect of phonological awareness in the dyslexic group. This suggests that non-phonological factors may lie at the root of the association between RAN inter-item pauses and reading ability. In normal readers, RAN performance was associated with reading ability only at early ages (i.e. in the reading-matched controls), and again it was the RAN inter-item pause times that explain the association.
  • Araújo, S., Faísca, L., Bramão, I., Inácio, F., Petersson, K. M., & Reis, A. (2011). Object naming in dyslexic children: More than a phonological deficit. The Journal of General Psychology, 138, 215-228. doi:10.1080/00221309.2011.582525.

    Abstract

    In the present study, the authors investigate how some visual factors related to early stages of visual-object naming modulate naming performance in dyslexia. The performance of dyslexic children was compared with 2 control groups—normal readers matched for age and normal readers matched for reading level—while performing a discrete naming task in which color and dimensionality of the visually presented objects were manipulated. The results showed that 2-dimensional naming performance improved for color representations in control readers but not in dyslexics. In contrast to control readers, dyslexics were also insensitive to the stimulus's dimensionality. These findings are unlikely to be explained by a phonological processing problem related to phonological access or retrieval but suggest that dyslexics have a lower capacity for coding and decoding visual surface features of 2-dimensional representations or problems with the integration of visual information stored in long-term memory.
  • Araújo, S., Faísca, L., Petersson, K. M., & Reis, A. (2011). What does rapid naming tell us about dyslexia? Avances en Psicología Latinoamericana, 29, 199-213.

    Abstract

    This article summarizes some of the important findings from research evaluating the relationship between poor rapid naming and impaired reading performance. Substantial evidence shows that dyslexic readers have problems with rapid naming of visual items. Early research assumed that this was a consequence of phonological processing deficits, but recent findings suggest that non-phonological processes may lie at the root of the association between slow naming speed and poor reading. The hypothesis that rapid naming reflects an independent core deficit in dyslexia is supported by the main findings: (1) some dyslexics are characterized by rapid naming difficulties but intact phonological skills; (2) evidence for an independent association between rapid naming and reading competence in the dyslexic readers, when the effect of phonological skills was controlled; (3) rapid naming and phonological processing measures are not reliably correlated. Recent research also reveals greater predictive power of rapid naming, in particular the inter-item pause time, for high-frequency word reading compared to pseudoword reading in developmental dyslexia. Altogether, the results are more consistent with the view that a phonological component alone cannot account for the rapid naming performance in dyslexia. Rather, rapid naming problems may emerge from the inefficiencies in visual-orthographic processing as well as in phonological processing.
  • Artigas, M. S., Loth, D. W., Wain, L. V., Gharib, S. A., Obeidat, M., Tang, W., Zhai, G., Zhao, J. H., Smith, A. V., Huffman, J. E., Albrecht, E., Jackson, C. M., Evans, D. M., Cadby, G., Fornage, M., Manichaikul, A., Lopez, L. M., Johnson, T., Aldrich, M. C., Aspelund, T., Barroso, I., Campbell, H., Cassano, P. A., Couper, D. J., Eiriksdottir, G., Franceschini, N., Garcia, M., Gieger, C., Gislason, G. K., Grkovic, I., Hammond, C. J., Hancock, D. B., Harris, T. B., Ramasamy, A., Heckbert, S. R., Heliövaara, M., Homuth, G., Hysi, P. G., James, A. L., Jankovic, S., Joubert, B. R., Karrasch, S., Klopp, N., Koch, B., Kritchevsky, S. B., Launer, L. J., Liu, Y., Loehr, L. R., Lohman, K., Loos, R. J., Lumley, T., Al Balushi, K. A., Ang, W. Q., Barr, R. G., Beilby, J., Blakey, J. D., Boban, M., Boraska, V., Brisman, J., Britton, J. R., Brusselle, G., Cooper, C., Curjuric, I., Dahgam, S., Deary, I. J., Ebrahim, S., Eijgelsheim, M., Francks, C., Gaysina, D., Granell, R., Gu, X., Hankinson, J. L., Hardy, R., Harris, S. E., Henderson, J., Henry, A., Hingorani, A. D., Hofman, A., Holt, P. G., Hui, J., Hunter, M. L., Imboden, M., Jameson, K. A., Kerr, S. M., Kolcic, I., Kronenberg, F., Liu, J. Z., Marchini, J., McKeever, T., Morris, A. D., Olin, A. C., Porteous, D. J., Postma, D. S., Rich, S. S., Ring, S. M., Rivadeneira, F., Rochat, T., Sayer, A. A., Sayers, I., Sly, P. D., Smith, G. D., Sood, A., Starr, J. M., Uitterlinden, A. G., Vonk, J. M., Wannamethee, S. G., Whincup, P. H., Wijmenga, C., Williams, O. D., Wong, A., Mangino, M., Marciante, K. D., McArdle, W. L., Meibohm, B., Morrison, A. C., North, K. E., Omenaas, E., Palmer, L. J., Pietiläinen, K. H., Pin, I., Pola Sbreve Ek, O., Pouta, A., Psaty, B. M., Hartikainen, A. L., Rantanen, T., Ripatti, S., Rotter, J. I., Rudan, I., Rudnicka, A. R., Schulz, H., Shin, S. Y., Spector, T. D., Surakka, I., Vitart, V., Völzke, H., Wareham, N. J., Warrington, N. M., Wichmann, H. E., Wild, S. H., Wilk, J. B., Wjst, M., Wright, A. F., Zgaga, L., Zemunik, T., Pennell, C. E., Nyberg, F., Kuh, D., Holloway, J. W., Boezen, H. M., Lawlor, D. A., Morris, R. W., Probst-Hensch, N., The International Lung Cancer Consortium, Giant consortium, Kaprio, J., Wilson, J. F., Hayward, C., Kähönen, M., Heinrich, J., Musk, A. W., Jarvis, D. L., Gläser, S., Järvelin, M. R., Ch Stricker, B. H., Elliott, P., O'Connor, G. T., Strachan, D. P., London, S. J., Hall, I. P., Gudnason, V., & Tobin, M. D. (2011). Genome-wide association and large-scale follow up identifies 16 new loci influencing lung function. Nature Genetics, 43, 1082-1090. doi:10.1038/ng.941.

    Abstract

    Pulmonary function measures reflect respiratory health and are used in the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. We tested genome-wide association with forced expiratory volume in 1 second and the ratio of forced expiratory volume in 1 second to forced vital capacity in 48,201 individuals of European ancestry with follow up of the top associations in up to an additional 46,411 individuals. We identified new regions showing association (combined P < 5 × 10(-8)) with pulmonary function in or near MFAP2, TGFB2, HDAC4, RARB, MECOM (also known as EVI1), SPATA9, ARMC2, NCR3, ZKSCAN3, CDC123, C10orf11, LRP1, CCDC38, MMP15, CFDP1 and KCNE2. Identification of these 16 new loci may provide insight into the molecular mechanisms regulating pulmonary function and into molecular targets for future therapy to alleviate reduced lung function.
  • Avitabile, D., Crespi, A., Brioschi, C., Parente, V., Toietta, G., Devanna, P., Baruscotti, M., Truffa, S., Scavone, A., Rusconi, F., Biondi, A., D'Alessandra, Y., Vigna, E., DiFrancesco, D., Pesce, M., Capogrossi, M. C., & Barbuti, A. (2011). Human cord blood CD34+ progenitor cells acquire functional cardiac properties through a cell fusion process. American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 300(5), H1875-H1884. doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.111.226969.

    Abstract

    The efficacy of cardiac repair by stem cell administration relies on a successful functional integration of injected cells into the host myocardium. Safety concerns have been raised about the possibility that stem cells may induce foci of arrhythmia in the ischemic myocardium. In a previous work (36), we showed that human cord blood CD34+ cells, when cocultured on neonatal mouse cardiomyocytes, exhibit excitation-contraction coupling features similar to those of cardiomyocytes, even though no human genes were upregulated. The aims of the present work are to investigate whether human CD34+ cells, isolated after 1 wk of coculture with neonatal ventricular myocytes, possess molecular and functional properties of cardiomyocytes and to discriminate, using a reporter gene system, whether cardiac differentiation derives from a (trans)differentiation or a cell fusion process. Umbilical cord blood CD34+ cells were isolated by a magnetic cell sorting method, transduced with a lentiviral vector carrying the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) gene, and seeded onto primary cultures of spontaneously beating rat neonatal cardiomyocytes. Cocultured EGFP+/CD34+-derived cells were analyzed for their electrophysiological features at different time points. After 1 wk in coculture, EGFP+ cells, in contact with cardiomyocytes, were spontaneously contracting and had a maximum diastolic potential (MDP) of −53.1 mV, while those that remained isolated from the surrounding myocytes did not contract and had a depolarized resting potential of −11.4 mV. Cells were then resuspended and cultured at low density to identify EGFP+ progenitor cell derivatives. Under these conditions, we observed single EGFP+ beating cells that had acquired an hyperpolarization-activated current typical of neonatal cardiomyocytes (EGFP+ cells, −2.24 ± 0.89 pA/pF; myocytes, −1.99 ± 0.63 pA/pF, at −125 mV). To discriminate between cell autonomous differentiation and fusion, EGFP+/CD34+ cells were cocultured with cardiac myocytes infected with a red fluorescence protein-lentiviral vector; under these conditions we found that 100% of EGFP+ cells were also red fluorescent protein positive, suggesting cell fusion as the mechanism by which cardiac functional features are acquired.
  • Baggio, G., & Hagoort, P. (2011). The balance between memory and unification in semantics: A dynamic account of the N400. Language and Cognitive Processes, 26, 1338-1367. doi:10.1080/01690965.2010.542671.

    Abstract

    At least three cognitive brain components are necessary in order for us to be able to produce and comprehend language: a Memory repository for the lexicon, a Unification buffer where lexical information is combined into novel structures, and a Control apparatus presiding over executive function in language. Here we describe the brain networks that support Memory and Unification in semantics. A dynamic account of their interactions is presented, in which a balance between the two components is sought at each word-processing step. We use the theory to provide an explanation of the N400 effect.
  • Bank, R., Crasborn, O., & Van Hout, R. (2011). Variation in mouth actions with manual signs in Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT). Sign Language & Linguistics, 14(2), 248-270. doi:10.1075/sll.14.2.02ban.

    Abstract

    Mouthings and mouth gestures are omnipresent in Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT). Mouthings in NGT commonly have their origin in spoken Dutch. We conducted a corpus study to explore how frequent mouthings in fact are in NGT, whether there is variation within and between signs in mouthings, and how frequent temporal reduction occurs in mouthings. Answers to these questions can help us classify mouthings as being specified in the sign lexicon or as being instances of code-blending. We investigated a sample of 20 frequently occurring signs. We found that each sign in the sample co-occurs frequently with a mouthing, usually that of a specific Dutch lexical item. On the other hand, signs show variation in the way they co-occur with mouthings and mouth gestures. By using a relatively large amount of natural data, we succeeded in gaining more insight into the way mouth actions are utilized in sign languages.

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  • Bardhan, N. P., & Weber, A. (2011). Listening to a novel foreign accent, with long lasting effects [Abstract]. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. Program abstracts of the 162nd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, 130(4), 2445.

    Abstract

    In conversation, listeners frequently encounter speakers with foreign accents. Previous research on foreign-accented speech has primarily examined the short-term effects of exposure and the relative ease that listeners have with adapting to an accent. The present study examines the stability of this adaptation, with seven full days between testing sessions. On both days, subjects performed a cross-modal priming task in which they heard several minutes of an unfamiliar accent of their native language: a form of Hebrewaccented Dutch in which long /i:/ was shortened to /I/. During this task on Day 1, recognition of accented forms was not facilitated, compared to that of canonical forms. A week later, when tested on new words, facilitatory priming occurred, comparable to that seen for canonically produced items tested in both sessions. These results suggest that accented forms can be learned from brief exposure and the stable effects of this can be seen a week later.
  • Bergmann, C., Boves, L., & Ten Bosch, L. (2011). Measuring word learning performance in computational models and infants. In Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Development and Learning, and Epigenetic Robotics. Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 24-27 Aug. 2011.

    Abstract

    In the present paper we investigate the effect of categorising raw behavioural data or computational model responses. In addition, the effect of averaging over stimuli from potentially different populations is assessed. To this end, we replicate studies on word learning and generalisation abilities using the ACORNS models. Our results show that discrete categories may obscure interesting phenomena in the continuous responses. For example, the finding that learning in the model saturates very early at a uniform high recognition accuracy only holds for categorical representations. Additionally, a large difference in the accuracy for individual words is obscured by averaging over all stimuli. Because different words behaved differently for different speakers, we could not identify a phonetic basis for the differences. Implications and new predictions for infant behaviour are discussed.
  • Bergmann, C., Boves, L., & Ten Bosch, L. (2011). Thresholding word activations for response scoring - Modelling psycholinguistic data. In Proceedings of the 12th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association [Interspeech 2011] (pp. 769-772). ISCA.

    Abstract

    In the present paper we investigate the effect of categorising raw behavioural data or computational model responses. In addition, the effect of averaging over stimuli from potentially different populations is assessed. To this end, we replicate studies on word learning and generalisation abilities using the ACORNS models. Our results show that discrete categories may obscure interesting phenomena in the continuous responses. For example, the finding that learning in the model saturates very early at a uniform high recognition accuracy only holds for categorical representations. Additionally, a large difference in the accuracy for individual words is obscured by averaging over all stimuli. Because different words behaved differently for different speakers, we could not identify a phonetic basis for the differences. Implications and new predictions for infant behaviour are discussed.
  • Bien, H., Baayen, H. R., & Levelt, W. J. M. (2011). Frequency effects in the production of Dutch deverbal adjectives and inflected verbs. In R. Bertram, J. Hyönä, & M. Laine (Eds.), Morphology in language comprehension, production and acquisition (pp. 683-715). London: Psychology Press.

    Abstract

    In two experiments, we studied the role of frequency information in the production of deverbal adjectives and inflected verbs in Dutch. Naming latencies were triggered in a position-response association task and analysed using stepwise mixed-effects modelling, with subject and word as crossed random effects. The production latency of deverbal adjectives was affected by the cumulative frequencies of their verbal stems, arguing for decomposition and against full listing. However, for the inflected verbs, there was an inhibitory effect of Inflectional Entropy, and a nonlinear effect of Lemma Frequency. Additional effects of Position-specific Neighbourhood Density and Cohort Entropy in both types of words underline the importance of paradigmatic relations in the mental lexicon. Taken together, the data suggest that the word-form level does neither contain full forms nor strictly separated morphemes, but rather morphemes with links to phonologically and—in case of inflected verbs—morphologically related word forms.
  • Bien, H., Baayen, H. R., & Levelt, W. J. M. (2011). Frequency effects in the production of Dutch deverbal adjectives and inflected verbs. Language and Cognitive Processes, 26, 683-715. doi:10.1080/01690965.2010.511475.

    Abstract

    In two experiments, we studied the role of frequency information in the production of deverbal adjectives and inflected verbs in Dutch. Naming latencies were triggered in a position-response association task and analysed using stepwise mixed-effects modelling, with subject and word as crossed random effects. The production latency of deverbal adjectives was affected by the cumulative frequencies of their verbal stems, arguing for decomposition and against full listing. However, for the inflected verbs, there was an inhibitory effect of Inflectional Entropy, and a nonlinear effect of Lemma Frequency. Additional effects of Position-specific Neighbourhood Density and Cohort Entropy in both types of words underline the importance of paradigmatic relations in the mental lexicon. Taken together, the data suggest that the word-form level does neither contain full forms nor strictly separated morphemes, but rather morphemes with links to phonologically andin case of inflected verbsmorphologically related word forms.
  • Blasi, A., Mercure, E., Lloyd-Fox, S., Thomson, A., Brammer, M., Sauter, D., Deeley, Q., Barker, G. J., Renvall, V., Deoni, S., Gasston, D., Williams, S. C., Johnson, M. H., Simmons, A., & Murphy, D. G. (2011). Early specialization for voice and emotion processing in the infant brain. Current Biology, 21, 1220-1224. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2011.06.009.

    Abstract

    Human voices play a fundamental role in social communication, and areas of the adult ‘social brain’ show specialization for processing voices and its emotional content (superior temporal sulcus - STS, inferior prefrontal cortex, premotor cortical regions, amygdala and insula [1-8]. However, it is unclear when this specialization develops. Functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) studies suggest the infant temporal cortex does not differentiate speech from music or backward speech [10, 11], but a prior study with functional near infrared spectroscopy revealed preferential activation for human voices in 7-month-olds, in a more posterior location of the temporal cortex than in adults [12]. Yet, the brain networks involved in processing non-speech human vocalizations in early development are still unknown. For this purpose, in the present fMRI study, 3 to 7 month olds were presented with adult non-speech vocalizations (emotionally neutral, emotionally positive and emotionally negative), and non-vocal environmental sounds. Infants displayed significant activation in the anterior portion of the temporal cortex, similarly to adults [1]. Moreover, sad vocalizations modulated the activity of brain regions known to be involved in processing affective stimuli such as the orbitofrontal cortex [13] and insula [7, 8]. These results suggest remarkably early functional specialization for processing human voice and negative emotions.
  • Blythe, J. (2011). Laughter is the best medicine: Roles for prosody in a Murriny Patha conversational narrative. In B. Baker, I. Mushin, M. Harvey, & R. Gardner (Eds.), Indigenous Language and Social Identity: Papers in Honour of Michael Walsh (pp. 223-236). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • Bögels, S., Schriefers, H., Vonk, W., & Chwilla, D. (2011). Pitch accents in context: How listeners process accentuation in referential communication. Neuropsychologia, 49, 2022-2036. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.03.032.

    Abstract

    We investigated whether listeners are sensitive to (mis)matching accentuation patterns with respect to contrasts in the linguistic and visual context, using Event-Related Potentials. We presented participants with displays of two pictures followed by a spoken reference to one of these pictures (e.g., “the red ball”). The referent was contrastive with respect to the linguistic context (utterance in the previous trial: e.g., “the blue ball”) or with respect to the visual context (other picture in the display; e.g., a display with a red ball and a blue ball). The spoken reference carried a pitch accent on the noun (“the red BALL”) or on the adjective (“the RED ball”), or an intermediate (‘neutral’) accentuation. For the linguistic context, we found evidence for the Missing Accent Hypothesis: Listeners showed processing difficulties, in the form of increased negativities in the ERPs, for missing accents, but not for superfluous accents. ‘Neutral’ or intermediate accents were interpreted as ‘missing’ accents when they occurred late in the referential utterance, but not when they occurred early. For the visual context, we found evidence for the Missing Accent Hypothesis for a missing accent on the adjective (an increase in negativity in the ERPs) and a superfluous accent on the noun (no effect). However, a redundant color adjective (e.g., in the case of a display with a red ball and a red hat) led to less processing problems when the adjective carried a pitch accent.

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