Saltar al contenido | Saltar al meú principal | Saltar a la secciones


Language comprehension

Friday, September 30th,   2011 [17:20 - 19:20]

PS_1.097 - Sinking about speech: Acoustic similarity versus linguistic experience in prelexical processing

Bien, H. 1 , Hanulikova, A. 2 , Weber, A. 3 & Zwitserlood, P. 1, 4

1 Institute for Psychology. University of Muenster. Muenster. Germany
2 Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language. Donostia-San Sebastián. Spain
3 Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. Nijmegen. The Netherlands
4 Otto Creutzfeldt Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. Muenster. Germany

Speech sounds of a second language are often hard to pronounce, and speakers approximate the correct pronunciation by using a close relative from their native language. Using an identity Mismatch Negativity (iMMN) design, we examined whether processing of such mispronounced segments is driven by acoustic similarity with the standard pronunciation or by one’s experience. Specifically, we compared the English standard pronunciation of the interdental fricative in the pseudoword ‘thond’ to deviant pronunciations ‘tond’ and ‘sond’, typical of either German (who frequently substitute ‘th’ with /s/), or Dutch second-language learners (who frequently substitute ‘th’ with /t/). Acoustically, /s/ is always more similar to ‘th’ than /t/.
ERP-data from Dutch and German listeners were analyzed subtracting the responses to the exact same stimuli presented as deviant and standard across conditions. In Dutch and German participants, both substitutions for ‘thond’ elicited a significant iMMN and consecutive P2. For Dutch listeners, the effects of ‘sond’ and ‘tond’ were equally large in both the iMMN and P2. For Germans, ‘sond’ elicited a smaller P2, while the iMMNs were of the same size. The iMMN results suggest that acoustic distance influences prelexical processing of ‘th’-substitutions in non-native listeners, whereas linguistic experience may have an impact downstream (P2).

PS_1.098 - Is wordlikeness judgment a good predictor of pseudoword processing in the lexical decision task?

Robert, C. 1 , Zagar, D. 2 & Mathey, S. 1

1 Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2
2 Université de Bourgogne

Readers can generally recognize that a sequence of letters is a real word and have intuitions about how typical it looks as a word. In fact, previous research has reported that pseudoword processing was influenced by orthographic neighbourhood and by the frequency with which a letter sequence occurs in one given language. Other studies have found that wordlikeness ratings of pseudowords varied as a function of lexical neighbourhood and bigram frequency. Even though there is evidence that the similarity with words influences pseudoword processing, it is yet unclear what makes a sequence of letters more or less typical, more or less wordlike. The aim of the present study was to disentangle the role of wordlikeness judgments from various objective lexical variables (e.g., orthographic neighbourhood, bigram frequency, syllable frequency) on pseudoword lexical-decisions. Twenty-two participants performed a lexical decision task on 200 pseudowords. Then, they were asked to rate on a seven-point scale the degree to which each pseudoword looks like a real word. Results indicated that wordlikeness judgment was the strongest significant predictor of lexical decision latencies and errors, which suggests that a subjective variable of wordlikeness is a good predictor of pseudoword processing in the lexical decision task.

PS_1.099 - Action goal selects affordances evoked by understanding nouns of tools

Marino, B. F. 1 , Borghi, A. M. 2, 3 & Riggio, L. 1

1 Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università di Parma, Parma, Italy
2 Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università di Bologna, Bologna, Italy
3 Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione, CNR, Roma, Italy

Recent behavioural and brain imaging studies have shown that understanding nouns of graspable man-made objects triggers the activation of motor programs for hand movements associated with both object prehension and object use (i.e. structural and functional affordances). Here, we investigated whether functional and structural affordances evoked by those nouns can be selected in accordance with the goal of the action sequence expressed by the sentences in which the nouns are embedded. To this end, 34 participants were presented with sentences obtained by combining the noun of familiar tools with a verb pair expressing different action goals (i.e. grasping-to-move, grasping-to-use, looking-to-grasp and looking-to-stare). Participants decided whether the tool mentioned in the sentence was the same as that displayed in a following picture. We found that accessing the meaning of a tool noun activates a set of motor programs for hand movements in accordance with the specific action goal expressed by the verb pair. Specifically, functional affordances are activated only by the grasping goal related to tool use. This pattern of result is in keeping with embodied theories on language and with the idea of a chained activation of the motor system during action sentence understanding.

PS_1.100 - Lexical processing of homonyms: the role of frequency dominance and grammatical class

Mancuso, A. & Laudanna, A.

Department of Communication Sciences. University of Salerno. Salerno, Italy.

The present study investigates the role played by frequency dominance and grammatical class information in lexical processing of homonyms in Italian. By using a naming task, we evaluated different degrees of semantic priming on homonyms, depending on whether they were preceded by primes biasing toward dominant vs. subordinate meaning. We selected 90 homonymic words: 18 had a higher frequency as nouns (e.g., abito, dress/I live); 18 had a higher frequency as verbs (e.g., accetta, he/she accepts/hatchet); 18 had two balanced nominal meanings, (e.g., credenza, cupboard/belief); 18 had two unbalanced nominal meanings (e.g., campione; champion/sample); 18 had two balanced nominal/verbal meanings (e.g., boccia, bowl/he-she rejects). The critical stimuli were preceded by semantically related vs. unrelated primes. The results showed a significant priming effect when the prime was biased toward the dominant meaning of unbalanced words or toward one of the two meanings of balanced words, while no priming effect was found when the subordinate meaning was activated. The results are interpreted as evidence that both the dominance relationship between multiple meanings and the grammatical class ambiguity affect processing of homonymic words.

PS_1.101 - Reading between the lines: Inference processes in the online comprehension of symbolic haikus

Stregapede, F. 1, 2 , Meyer, A. 1 & Miall, C. 2

1 Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
2 The University of Birmingham

"a bitter rain - two silences beneath the one umbrella" Is the connotative meaning of texts readily available or is it gleaned at an extra cognitive cost? The eye-movements of 31 English native speakers (10 male; mean age, 21 years) were recorded while reading 24 haikus, 12 in the original/symbolic version, and 12 in a modified version where the most symbolic word (the keyword ‘bitter’ in the example) was replaced by a more literal word (‘loud’) reducing the text’s symbolic purport. The effects of keyword substitutions were measured globally, comparing total reading times for the two haiku types, and locally, examining the first pass gaze durations and dwell times on a word closely connected to the keyword, the referent ‘silences’, and on the last word, ‘umbrella’, to examine wrap-up processes. First pass duration showed no effects of the substitution. However, dwell time on referents and last-word regions, and total reading time were significantly longer for the original than for the altered haikus, suggesting that the connotative meaning of the texts was not available immediately but only through re-reading of the texts. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to the literature on the processing of inferences in symbolic texts.

PS_1.102 - Structural ambiguity resolution in nominal control construction: Eye-tracking studies with mono- and bilinguals

Kwon, N. 1 & Sturt, P. 2

1 Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
2 University of Edinburgh. Edinburgh, UK.

Bilinguals show a disadvantage in lexical access in production (Ivanova & Costa, 2008). Here we investigate whether they also show a disadvantage in the use of lexical information in parsing. Giver (refusal) and Recipient (“request”) control nominals dictate that the empty pronominal PRO refers to “Roger” in (1) but cannot in (2) (Culicover & Jackendoff, 2006). If the parser uses such lexical information on-line, and actively searches for the antecedent for PRO, a reduced garden path effect is predicted in (2); “the teenagers” cannot be the antecedent for PRO in the object position of “stop” (Condition C violation) and will be correctly parsed as the main clause subject. In an eye-tracking experiment, monolinguals showed such a reduced garden path effect in (2) compared with (1), but early bilinguals (of English-Chinese; English-dominant; AOA of English before age 5) showed equal effects in (1) and (2). Thus, although early bilinguals may perform like monolinguals within the syntactic domain (Kotz et al., 2007), they make less use of lexical information in parsing. (1) Giver Control, Ambiguous/Disambiguated: After Roger_i's refusal PRO_i/*k to stop/stop, the teenagers_k felt... (2) Recipient Control, Ambiguous/Disambiguated: After Roger_i's request PRO_*i/k to stop/stop, the teenagers_k felt...

PS_1.103 - Pro resolution in a discourse-oriented language: a self-paced reading time study in Korean

Kwon, N. 1 & Sturt, P. 2

1 Linguistics. Nanyang Technological University. Singapore
2 Psychology. University of Edinburgh. Edinburgh, UK

This reading-time study investigated null pronoun (pro) resolution in Korean, a discourse-oriented language (Huang, 1984). We manipulated antecedents for pro; with or without a preceding discourse antecedent, and with matching or mismatching features on a following intra-sentential antecedent. Matching was manipulated using a reflexive, which requires its binder, pro, to be third person. An intra-sentential antecedent with mismatching features led to processing slow-down at the subsequent sentential positions only when there was no preceding discourse antecedent. In comparison to a study in English where such mismatch effects were found regardless of presence of a preceding discourse antecedent (Liversedge & van Gompel, ms.), the results suggest that in Korean, when pro already refers to a discourse topic, the parser does not further form a dependency between pro and a potential intra-sentential antecedent. This is most compatible with the hypothesis that in discourse-oriented languages, discourse plays a more important role than morpho-syntactic cues in pronoun resolution, while in English, both are equally important. This suggests that individual languages might have different sensitivity to different cues in pronoun resolution. Moreover, pro interpretation is immediate even in languages without rich agreement, contra Mazuka (1991).

PS_1.104 - Familial left handedness in right-handers changes neurological organization for language & cognition

Hancock, R. & Bever, T.

University of Arizona

Five decades of experimental, clinical and neuroimaging results demonstrate the cognitive and scientific importance of differentiating right-handed subjects with familial sinistrality (FS+) from those without (FS-). We present new fMRI and EEG evidence that lexical processing is faster and more bilaterally organized in FS+ subjects than in FS- subjects, while there is little difference in syntactic processing. P600 amplitudes are also mediated by familial sinistrality in a word probe task, suggestive of a sequential/lexical vs integrative/syntactic processing distinction. We suggest a neurocomputational model of dynamic instability in the corticostriatal loop as an explanation for this genetically-linked variability in language processing and other cognitive traits linked to personal and familial sinistrality. Preliminary data from non-linguistic behavioral and EEG studies support this model, revealing that FS+ subjects switch between bistable visual percepts (e.g. Necker cube perspectives) more rapidly than FS- subjects, and also show reduced alpha power suppression and make more commission errors in a go-nogo task, two measures thought to be linked to chemical disregulation of the corticostriatal system.

©2010 BCBL. Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language. All rights reserved. Tel: +34 943 309 300 | Fax: +34 943 309 052