A classic question in the recognition memory literature is whether retrieval is best described as a continuous-evidence process consistent with signal detection theory (SDT), or a threshold process consistent with many multinomial processing tree (MPT) models. Because receiver operating characteristics (ROCs) based on confidence ratings are typically curved as predicted by SDT, this model has been preferred in many studies of recognition memory (Wixted, 2007). Recently, Bröder and Schütz (2009) argued that curvature in ratings ROCs may be produced by variability in scale usage; therefore, ratings ROCs are not diagnostic in deciding between the two approaches. From this standpoint, only ROCs constructed via experimental manipulations of response bias (‘binary’ ROCs) are predicted to be linear by threshold MPT models. The authors claimed that binary ROCs are linear, consistent with the assumptions of threshold MPT models. We compared SDT and the double high-threshold MPT model using binary ROCs differing in target strength. Results showed that the SDT model provided a superior account of both the ROC curvature and the effect of strength compared to the MPT model. Moreover, the bias manipulation produced differences in RT distributions that were well described by the diffusion model (Ratcliff, 1978), a dynamic version of SDT.
Recognition Memory; Signal Detection; Diffusion Model; Response Times
The present study explored when and how the top-down intention to speak influences the language production process. We did so by comparing the brain’s electrical response for a variable known to affect lexical access, namely word frequency, during overt object naming and non-verbal object categorization. We found that during naming, the event-related brain potentials elicited for objects with low frequency names started to diverge from those with high frequency names as early as 152 ms after stimulus onset, while during non-verbal categorization the same frequency comparison appeared 200 ms later eliciting a qualitatively different brain response. Thus, only when participants had the conscious intention to name an object the brain rapidly engaged in lexical access. The data offer evidence that top-down intention to speak proactively facilitates the activation of words related to perceived objects.
Language production; Lexical access; Task intention; ERPs; Top-down processing
The response-signal speed-accuracy trade-off (SAT) procedure was used to provide an in-depth investigation of the impact of aging on the dynamics of short-term memory retrieval. Young and older adults studied sequentially presented 3-item lists, immediately followed by a recognition probe. Analyses of composite list and serial position SAT functions found no differences in overall accuracy, but indicated slower retrieval speed for older adults. Analysis of false alarms to recent negatives (lures from the previous study list) revealed no differences in the timing or magnitude of early false alarms that are thought to reflect familiarity-based judgments. However, onset and accrual of recollective processing required for resolving interference was slower for older adults. These findings suggest that older adults have a selective impairment on controlled and recollective retrieval operations, and further specify this impairment to arise primarily from delayed onset of cognitive control potentially coupled with reduced availability of recollective information.
Aging; memory retrieval; item-recognition; interference; recent negative; response-deadline speed-accuracy trade-off procedure
•Open bigrams are ordered-letter pairs that code local order.•We tested two core assumptions of open bigram models using bigram primes.•Reversed bigrams and bigrams spanning three letters produced robust priming.•The results provide no support for the role of open bigrams in coding letter order.
Open bigram (OB) models (e.g., SERIOL: Whitney, 2001, 2008; Binary OB, Grainger & van Heuven, 2003; Overlap OB, Grainger et al., 2006; Local combination detector model, Dehaene et al., 2005) posit that letter order in a word is coded by a set of ordered letter pairs. We report three experiments using bigram primes in the same-different match task, investigating the effects of order reversal and the number of letters intervening between the letters in the target. Reversed bigrams (e.g., fo-OF, ob-ABOLISH) produced robust priming, in direct contradiction to the assumption that letter order is coded by the presence of ordered letter pairs. Also in contradiction to the core assumption of current open bigram models, non-contiguous bigrams spanning three letters in the target (e.g., bs-ABOLISH) showed robust priming effects, equivalent in size to contiguous bigrams (e.g., bo-ABOLISH). These results question the role of open bigrams in coding letter order.
Orthographic representation; Letter order; Open bigrams
Complex networks describe how entities in systems interact; the structure of such networks is argued to influence processing. One measure of network structure, clustering coefficient, C, measures the extent to which neighbors of a node are also neighbors of each other. Previous psycholinguistic experiments found that the C of phonological word-forms influenced retrieval from the mental lexicon (that portion of long-term memory dedicated to language) during the on-line recognition and production of spoken words. In the present study we examined how network structure influences other retrieval processes in long- and short-term memory. In a false-memory task—examining long-term memory—participants falsely recognized more words with low- than high-C. In a recognition memory task—examining veridical memories in long-term memory—participants correctly recognized more words with low- than high-C. However, participants in a serial recall task—examining redintegration in short-term memory—recalled lists comprised of high-C words more accurately than lists comprised of low-C words. These results demonstrate that network structure influences cognitive processes associated with several forms of memory including lexical, long-term, and short-term.
network science; STM; LTM; clustering coefficient; mental lexicon
Bilinguals who are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and English often produce code-blends - simultaneously articulating a sign and a word while conversing with other ASL-English bilinguals. To investigate the cognitive mechanisms underlying code-blend processing, we compared picture-naming times (Experiment 1) and semantic categorization times (Experiment 2) for code-blends versus ASL signs and English words produced alone. In production, code-blending did not slow lexical retrieval for ASL and actually facilitated access to low-frequency signs. However, code-blending delayed speech production because bimodal bilinguals synchronized English and ASL lexical onsets. In comprehension, code-blending speeded access to both languages. Bimodal bilinguals’ ability to produce code-blends without any cost to ASL implies that the language system either has (or can develop) a mechanism for switching off competition to allow simultaneous production of close competitors. Code-blend facilitation effects during comprehension likely reflect cross-linguistic (and cross-modal) integration at the phonological and/or semantic levels. The absence of any consistent processing costs for code-blending illustrates a surprising limitation on dual-task costs and may explain why bimodal bilinguals code-blend more often than they code-switch.
bilingualism; lexical access; sign language
Recent research has demonstrated that knowledge of real-world eventsplays an important role inguiding online language comprehension. The present study addresses the scope of event knowledge activation during the course of comprehension, specifically investigating whether activation is limited to those knowledge elements that align with the local linguistic context.The present study addresses this issue by analyzing event-related brain potentials (ERPs) recorded as participants read brief scenariosdescribing typical real-world events. Experiment 1 demonstratesthat a contextually anomalous word elicits a reduced N400 if it is generally related to the described event, even when controlling for the degree of association of this word with individual words in the preceding context and with the expected continuation. Experiment 2 shows that this effect disappears when the discourse context is removed.These findings demonstrate that during the course of incremental comprehension, comprehenders activate general knowledge about the described event, even at points at which this knowledge would constitute an anomalous continuation of the linguistic stream. Generalized event knowledge activationcontributes to mental representations of described events, is immediately available to influence language processing, and likely drives linguistic expectancy generation.
sentence processing; psycholinguistics; language comprehension; event knowledge; event-related potentials; expectancy generation
We investigated the development of dual-retrieval processes with a low-burden paradigm that is suitable for research with children and neurocognitively impaired populations (e.g., older adults with mild cognitive impairment or dementia). Rich quantitative information can be obtained about recollection, reconstruction, and familiarity judgment by defining a Markov model over simple recall tasks like those that are used in clinical neuropsychology batteries. The model measures these processes separately for learning, forgetting, and reminiscence. We implemented this procedure in some developmental experiments, whose aims were (a) to measure age changes in recollective and nonrecollective retrieval during learning, forgetting, and reminiscence and (b) to measure age changes in content dimensions (e.g., taxonomic relatedness) that affect the two forms of retrieval. The model provided excellent fits in all three domains. Concerning (a), recollection, reconstruction, and familiarity judgment all improved during the child-to-adolescent age range in the learning domain, whereas only recollection improved in the forgetting domain, and the processes were age-invariant in the reminiscence domain. Concerning (b), although some elements of the adult pattern of taxonomic relatedness effects were detected by early adolescence, the adult pattern differs qualitatively from corresponding patterns in children and adolescents.
recollection; reconstruction; familiarity; forgetting; reminiscence; Markov models
Four experiments examined listeners’ segmentation of ambiguous schwa-initial sequences (e.g., a long vs. along) in casual speech, where acoustic cues can be unclear, possibly increasing reliance on contextual information to resolve the ambiguity. In Experiment 1, acoustic analyses of talkers’ productions showed that the one-word and two-word versions were produced almost identically, regardless of the preceding sentential context (biased or neutral). These tokens were then used in three listening experiments, whose results confirmed the lack of local acoustic cues for disambiguating the interpretation, and the dominance of sentential context in parsing. Findings speak to the H&H theory of speech production (Lindblom, 1990), demonstrate that context alone guides parsing when acoustic cues to word boundaries are absent, and demonstrate how knowledge of how talkers speak can contribute to an understanding of how words are segmented.
Word segmentation; Casual speech; Speech production; Speech perception
In three experiments, we evaluated remembering and intentional forgetting of attitude statements that were either congruent or incongruent with participants’ own political attitudes. In Experiment 1, significant directed forgetting was obtained for incongruent statements, but not for congruent statements. In addition, in the remember group, recall was better for incongruent statements than congruent statements. To explain these findings, we propose a contextual competition at retrieval hypothesis, according to which incongruent statements become more strongly associated with their episodic context during encoding than do congruent statements. At the time of retrieval, incongruent statements compete with congruent statements due to the greater amount of contextual information stored in their memory trace. We tested this hypothesis in Experiment 2 by studying free recall of congruent and incongruent statements in a mixed-pure list design. In Experiment 3, memory for incongruent and congruent statements was tested under recognition test conditions that varied in terms of how much direct retrieval of contextual details they required. Overall, the results supported the contextual competition hypothesis, and they indicate the importance of context strength in both the remembering and intentional forgetting of attitude information.
directed forgetting; attitude memory; context strength; congeniality effect
Previous research has found that a speaker’s native phonological system has a great influence on perception of another language. In three experiments, we tested the perception and representation of Mandarin phonological contrasts by Guangzhou Cantonese speakers, and compared their performance to that of native Mandarin speakers. Despite their rich experience using Mandarin Chinese, the Cantonese speakers had problems distinguishing specific Mandarin segmental and tonal contrasts that do not exist in Guangzhou Cantonese. However, we found evidence that the subtle differences between two members of a contrast were nonetheless represented in the lexicon. We also found different processing patterns for non-native segmental versus non-native tonal contrasts. The results provide substantial new information about the representation and processing of segmental and prosodic information by individuals listening to a closely-related, very well-learned, but still non-native language.
sibling languages; non-native language processing; segmental versus tonal perception; lexical representation of L2 contrasts
People often falsely recognize items that are similar to previously encountered items. This robust memory error is referred to as gist-based false recognition. A widely held view is that this error occurs because the details fade rapidly from our memory. Contrary to this view, an initial experiment revealed that, following the same encoding conditions that produce high rates of gist-based false recognition, participants overwhelmingly chose the correct target rather than its related foil when given the option to do so. A second experiment showed that this result is due to increased access to stored details provided by reinstatement of the originally encoded photograph, rather than to increased attention to the details. Collectively, these results suggest that details needed for accurate recognition are, to a large extent, still stored in memory and that a critical factor determining whether false recognition will occur is whether these details can be accessed during retrieval.
false memory; false recognition; gist; recognition memory
When an elided constituent and its antecedent do not match syntactically, the presence of a word implying the non-actuality of the state of affairs described in the antecedent seems to improve the example (This information should be released but Gorbachev didn’t. vs This information was released but Gorbachev didn’t.) We model this effect in terms of Non-Actuality Implicatures (NAIs) conveyed by non-epistemic modals like should and other words such as want to and be eager to that imply non-actuality. We report three studies. A rating and interpretation study showed that such implicatures are drawn and that they improve the acceptability of mismatch ellipsis examples. An interpretation study showed that adding a NAI trigger to ambiguous examples increases the likelihood of choosing an antecedent from the NAI clause. An eye movement study shows that a NAI trigger also speeds online reading of the ellipsis clause. By introducing alternatives (the desired state of affairs vs. the actual state of affairs), the NAI trigger introduces a potential Question Under Discussion (QUD). Processing an ellipsis clause is easier, the processor is more confident of its analysis, when the ellipsis clause comments on the QUD.
ellipsis; syntax; semantics; implicatures; parallelism; sentence acceptability; question under discussion
A gating technique was used in two studies of spoken word identification that investigated the relationship between the available acoustic–phonetic information in the speech signal and the context provided by meaningful and semantically anomalous sentences. The duration of intact spoken segments of target words and the location of these segments at the beginnings or endings of words in sentences were varied. The amount of signal duration required for word identification and the distribution of incorrect word responses were examined. Subjects were able to identify words in spoken sentences with only word-initial or only word-final acoustic–phonetic information. In meaningful sentences, less word-initial information was required to identify words than word-final information. Error analyses indicated that both acoustic–phonetic information and syntactic contextual knowledge interacted to generate the set of hypothesized word candidates used in identification. The results provide evidence that word identification is qualitatively different in meaningful sentences than in anomalous sentences or when words are presented in isolation: That is, word identification in sentences is an interactive process that makes use of several knowledge sources. In the presence of normal sentence context, the acoustic–phonetic information in the beginnings of words is particularly effective in facilitating rapid identification of words.
False memories arising from associatively related lists are a robust phenomenon that resists many efforts to prevent it. However, a few variables have been shown to reduce this form of false memory. Explanations for how the reduction is accomplished have focused on either output monitoring processes or constraints on access, but neither idea alone is sufficient to explain extant data. Our research was driven by a framework that distinguishes item-based and event-based distinctive processing to account for the effects of different variables on both correct recall of study list items and false recall. We report the results of three experiments examining the effect of a deep orienting task and the effect of visual presentation of study items, both of which have been shown to reduce false recall. The experiments replicate those previous findings and add important new information about the effect of the variables on a recall test that eliminates the need for monitoring. The results clearly indicate that both post-access monitoring and constraints on access contribute to reductions in false memories. The results also showed that the manipulations of study modality and orienting task had different effects on correct and false recall, a pattern that was predicted by the item-based/event-based distinctive processing framework.
We exploited the properties of VP-ellipsis constructions containing inherently reflexive and inalienable possession verbs that severely constrained final interpretation (e.g., “The policeman perjured himself, and the fireman did too…”). Using the cross-modal lexical priming task, we found that listeners reactivated the subject NP from the first clause at the elided position in the second clause (i.e., the “strict” reading), even though verb properties disallowed such an interpretation. We also found that listeners reactivated the subject NP from the second clause, demonstrating the “sloppy” interpretation. In a final experiment we examined VP-ellipsis constructions that did not contain anaphors (e.g., “The mailman bought a tie for Easter, and his brother did too…”). We found that only the object NP of the first clause was reconstructed in the second clause. We interpret these findings as support for a parser that computes multiple interpretations on-line, yet is initially insensitive to lexical and probabilistic information.
Language comprehension; VP-ellipsis; Syntax; Lexical
The role of interference as a primary determinant of forgetting in memory has long been accepted, however its role as a contributor to poor comprehension is just beginning to be understood. The current paper reports two studies, in which speed-accuracy tradeoff and eye-tracking methodologies were used with the same materials to provide converging evidence for the role of syntactic and semantic cues as mediators of both proactive (PI) and retroactive interference (RI) during comprehension. Consistent with previous work (e.g., Van Dyke & Lewis, 2003), we found that syntactic constraints at the retrieval site are among the cues that drive retrieval in comprehension, and that these constraints effectively limit interference from potential distractors with semantic/pragmatic properties in common with the target constituent. The data are discussed in terms of a cue-overload account, in which interference both arises from and is mediated through a direct-access retrieval mechanism that utilizes a linear, weighted cue-combinatoric scheme.
retrieval interference; comprehension; speed-accuracy tradeoff; sentence processing
Listeners expect that a definite noun phrase with a pre-nominal scalar adjective (e.g., the big …) will refer to an entity that is part of a set of objects contrasting on the scalar dimension, e.g., size (Sedivy, Tanenhaus, Chambers & Carlson, 1999). Two visual world experiments demonstrate that uttering a referring expression with a scalar adjective makes all members of the relevant contrast set more salient in the discourse model, facilitating subsequent reference to other members of that contrast set. Moreover, this discourse effect is caused primarily by linguistic mention of a scalar adjective and not by the listener’s prior visual or perceptual experience. These experiments demonstrate that language processing is sensitive to which information was introduced by linguistic mention, and that the visual world paradigm can be use to tease apart the separate contributions of visual and linguistic information to reference resolution.
Picture naming is a widely used technique in psycholinguistic studies. Here, we describe new on-line resources that our project has compiled and made available to researchers on the world wide web at http://crl.ucsd.edu/~aszekely/ipnp/. The website provides access to a wide range of picture stimuli and related norms in seven languages. Picture naming norms, including indices of name agreement and latency, for 520 black-and-white drawings of common objects and 275 concrete transitive and intransitive actions are presented. Norms for age-of-acquisition, word-frequency, familiarity, goodness-of-depiction, and visual complexity are included. An on-line database query system can be used to select a specific range of stimuli, based on parameters of interest for a wide range of studies on healthy and clinical populations, as well as studies of language development.
Cross-linguistic studies; Picture naming; Response times; Name agreement; Nouns; Verbs; Object; Action
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.
We investigated the mechanisms by which fillers, such as uh and um, affect memory for discourse. Participants listened to and attempted to recall recorded passages adapted from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The type and location of interruptions were manipulated through digital splicing. In Experiment 1, we tested a processing time account of fillers’ effects. While fillers facilitated recall, coughs matched in duration to the fillers impaired recall, suggesting that fillers’ benefits cannot be attributed to adding processing time. In Experiment 2, fillers’ locations were manipulated based on norming data to be either predictive or non-predictive of upcoming material. Fillers facilitated recall in both cases, inconsistent with an account in which listeners predict upcoming material using past experience with the distribution of fillers. Instead, these results suggest an attentional orienting account in which fillers direct attention to the speech stream but do not always result in specific predictions about upcoming material.
disfluency; fillers; discourse; recall; language comprehension
Current decision models of recognition memory are based almost entirely on one paradigm, single item old/new judgments accompanied by confidence ratings. This task results in receiver operating characteristics (ROCs) that are well fit by both signal-detection and dual-process models. Here we examine an entirely new recognition task, the judgment of episodic oddity, whereby participants select the mnemonically odd members of triplets (e.g., a new item hidden among two studied items). Using the only two known signal-detection rules of oddity judgment derived from the sensory perception literature, the unequal variance signal-detection model predicted that an old item among two new items would be easier to discover than a new item among two old items. In contrast, four separate empirical studies demonstrated the reverse pattern: triplets with two old items were the easiest to resolve. This finding was anticipated by the dual-process approach as the presence of two old items affords the greatest opportunity for recollection. Furthermore, a bootstrap-fed Monte Carlo procedure using two independent datasets demonstrated that the dual-process parameters typically observed during single item recognition correctly predict the current oddity findings, whereas unequal variance signal-detection parameters do not. Episodic oddity judgments represent a case where dual- and single-process predictions qualitatively diverge and the findings demonstrate that novelty is “odder” than familiarity.
Episodic Memory; Recognition; Cognitive Models
While the vast majority of linguistic processes apply locally, consonant harmony appears to be an exception. In this phonological process, consonants share the same value of a phonological feature, such as secondary place of articulation. In sibilant harmony, [s] and [ʃ] (‘sh’) alternate such that if a word contains the sound [ʃ], all [s] sounds become [ʃ]. This can apply locally as a first-order or non-locally as a second-order pattern. In the first-order case, no consonants intervene between the two sibilants (e.g., [pisasu], [piʃaʃu]). In second-order case, a consonant may intervene (e.g., [sipasu], [ʃipaʃu]). The fact that there are languages that allow second-order non-local agreement of consonant features has led some to question whether locality constraints apply to consonant harmony. This paper presents the results from two artificial grammar learning experiments that demonstrate the privileged role of locality constraints, even in patterns that allow second-order non-local interactions. In Experiment 1, we show that learners do not extend first-order non-local relationships in consonant harmony to second-order nonlocal relationships. In Experiment 2, we show that learners will extend a consonant harmony pattern with second-order long distance relationships to a consonant harmony with first-order long distance relationships. Because second-order non-local application implies first-order non-local application, but first-order non-local application does not imply second-order non-local application, we establish that local constraints are privileged even in consonant harmony.
This study is a large-scale exploration of the influence that individual reading skills exert on eye-movement behavior in sentence reading. Seventy one non-college-bound 16–24 year-old speakers of English completed a battery of 18 verbal and cognitive skill assessments, and read a series of sentences as their eye movements were monitored. Statistical analyses were performed to establish what tests of reading abilities were predictive of eye-movement patterns across this population and how strong the effects were. We found that individual scores in rapid automatized naming and word identification tests (i) were the only participant variables with reliable predictivity throughout the time-course of reading; (ii) elicited effects that superceded in magnitude the effects of established predictors like word length or frequency; and (iii) strongly modulated the influence of word length and frequency on fixation times. We discuss implications of our findings for testing reading ability, as well as for research of eye-movements in reading.
Eye movements; individual differences; reading ability; rapid automatized naming; psychometric tests