Acoustic reduction for repeated words could be the result of articulation and motor practice (Lam & Watson, 2014), facilitated production (Kahn & Arnold, 2015; Gahl et al., 2012), or audience design and shared common ground (Galati & Brennan, 2010). We sought to narrow down what kind of facilitation leads to repetition reduction. Repetition could, in principle, facilitate production on a conceptual, lexical, phonological, articulatory, or acoustic level (Kahn & Arnold, 2015). We compared the durations of the second utterance of a target word when the initial production was aloud or silent. The silent presentation either involved unmouthed or mouthed inner speech. Overt production, unmouthed and mouthed inner speech all led to reduction in target word onsets, but target word durations were only shortened when a word was initially said aloud. In an additional experiment, we found that prior naming of a homophone of the target word also led to duration reduction. The results suggest that repetition reduction occurs when there is a recently experienced auditory memory of the item. We propose that duration may be controlled in part by auditory feedback during production, the use of which can be primed by recent auditory experience.
repetition priming; duration; homophones; inner speech
In natural conversation, speakers often mention the same referents multiple times. While referents that have been previously mentioned are produced with less prominence than those that have not been mentioned, it is unclear whether prominence reduction is due to repetition of concepts, words, or a combination of the two. In the current study, we dissociate these sources of repetition by examining bilingual speakers, who have more than one word for the same concept across their two languages. Three groups of Korean-English bilinguals (balanced, English-dominant, and Korean-dominant) performed an event description task involving repetition of referents within a single language (i.e., repetition of word and concept) or across languages (i.e., repetition of concept only). While balanced bilinguals reduced prominence both within and across languages, unbalanced bilinguals only reduced prominence when repetition occurred within a language. These patterns suggest that the degree to which words and concepts are linked within a speaker’s language system determines the source of repetition reduction.
prominence; prosody; repetition; reduction; reference; speech production; lexical access; concepts; words; bilingualism
Fuzzy-trace theory’s assumptions about memory representation are cognitive examples of the familiar superposition property of physical quantum systems. When those assumptions are implemented in a formal quantum model (QEMc), they predict that episodic memory will violate the additive law of probability: If memory is tested for a partition of an item’s possible episodic states, the individual probabilities of remembering the item as belonging to each state must sum to more than 1. We detected this phenomenon using two standard designs, item false memory and source false memory. The quantum implementation of fuzzy-trace theory also predicts that violations of the additive law will vary in strength as a function of reliance on gist memory. That prediction, too, was confirmed via a series of manipulations (e.g., semantic relatedness, testing delay) that are thought to increase gist reliance. Surprisingly, an analysis of the underlying structure of violations of the additive law revealed that as a general rule, increases in remembering correct episodic states do not produce commensurate reductions in remembering incorrect states.
quantum probability; fuzzy-trace theory; superposition; subadditivity; gist memory
Language interpretation is often assumed to be incremental. However, our studies of quantifier expressions in isolated sentences found N400 event-related brain potential (ERP) evidence for partial but not full immediate quantifier interpretation (Urbach & Kutas, 2010). Here we tested similar quantifier expressions in pragmatically supporting discourse contexts (Alex was an unusual toddler. Most/Few kids prefer sweets/vegetables…) while participants made plausibility judgments (Experiment 1) or read for comprehension (Experiment 2). Control Experiments 3A (plausibility) and 3B (comprehension) removed the discourse contexts. Quantifiers always modulated typical and/or atypical word N400 amplitudes. However, only the real-time N400 effects only in Experiment 2 mirrored offline quantifier and typicality crossover interaction effects for plausibility ratings and cloze probabilities. We conclude that quantifier expressions can be interpreted fully and immediately, though pragmatic and task variables appear to impact the speed and/or depth of quantifier interpretation.
Statistical learning allows learners to detect regularities in the environment
and appears to emerge automatically as a consequence of experience. Statistical learning
paradigms bear many similarities to those of artificial grammar learning and other types
of implicit learning. However, whether learning effects in statistical learning tasks are
driven by implicit knowledge has not been thoroughly examined. The present study addressed
this gap by examining the role of implicit and explicit knowledge within the context of a
typical auditory statistical learning paradigm. Learners were exposed to a continuous
stream of repeating nonsense words. Learning was tested (a) directly via a forced-choice
recognition test combined with a remember/know procedure and (b) indirectly through a
novel reaction time (RT) test. Behavior and brain potentials revealed statistical learning
effects with both tests. On the recognition test, accurate responses were associated with
subjective feelings of stronger recollection, and learned nonsense words relative to
nonword foils elicited an enhanced late positive potential indicative of explicit
knowledge. On the RT test, both RTs and P300 amplitudes differed as a function of syllable
position, reflecting facilitation attributable to statistical learning. Explicit stimulus
recognition did not correlate with RT or P300 effects on the RT test. These results
provide evidence that explicit knowledge is accrued during statistical learning, while
bringing out the possibility that dissociable implicit representations are acquired in
parallel. The commonly used recognition measure primarily reflects explicit knowledge, and
thus may underestimate the total amount of knowledge produced by statistical learning.
Indirect measures may be more sensitive indices of learning, capturing knowledge above and
beyond what is reflected by recognition accuracy.
statistical learning; implicit learning; implicit memory; explicit memory; event-related potentials
Two experiments examined the influence of phonologically similar neighbors on articulation of words’ initial stop consonants in order to investigate the conditions under which lexically-conditioned phonetic variation arises. In Experiment 1, participants produced words in isolation. Results showed that the voice-onset time (VOT) of a target’s initial voiceless stop was predicted by its overall neighborhood density, but not by its having a voicing minimal pair. In Experiment 2, participants read aloud the same targets after semantically predictive sentence contexts and after neutral sentence contexts. Results showed that, although VOTs were shorter in words produced after predictive contexts, the neighborhood density effect on VOT production persisted irrespective of context. These findings suggest that global competition from a word’s neighborhood affects spoken word production independently of contextual modulation and support models in which activation cascades automatically and obligatorily among all of a selected target word’s phonological neighbors during acoustic-phonetic encoding.
speech production; voice-onset time (VOT); phonological competition; neighborhood density; sentence context; hyperarticulation
Semantic preview benefit in reading is an elusive and controversial effect because empirical studies do not always (but sometimes) find evidence for it. Its presence seems to depend on (at least) the language being read, visual properties of the text (e.g., initial letter capitalization), the type of relationship between preview and target, and as shown here, semantic constraint generated by the prior sentence context. Schotter (2013) reported semantic preview benefit for synonyms, but not semantic associates when the preview/target was embedded in a neutral sentence context. In Experiment 1, we embedded those same previews/targets into constrained sentence contexts and in Experiment 2 we replicated the effects reported by Schotter (2013; in neutral sentence contexts) and Experiment 1 (in constrained contexts) in a within-subjects design. In both experiments, we found an early (i.e., first-pass) apparent preview benefit for semantically associated previews in constrained contexts that went away in late measures (e.g., total time). These data suggest that sentence constraint (at least as manipulated in the current study) does not operate by making a single word form expected, but rather generates expectations about what kinds of words are likely to appear. Furthermore, these data are compatible with the assumption of the E-Z Reader model that early oculomotor decisions reflect “hedged bets” that a word will be identifiable and, when wrong, lead the system to identify the wrong word, triggering regressions.
Recent research has shown that language comprehension is guided by knowledge about the organization of objects and events in long-term memory. We use event-related brain potentials (ERPs) to determine the extent to which perceptuomotor object knowledge and event knowledge are immediately activated during incremental language processing. Event-related but anomalous sentence continuations preceded by single-sentence event descriptions elicited reduced N400s, despite their poor fit within local sentence contexts. Anomalous words sharing particular sensory or motor attributes with contextually expected words also elicited reduced N400s, despite being inconsistent with global context (i.e., event information). We rule out plausibility as an explanation for both relatedness effects. We show that perceptuomotor-related facilitation is not due to lexical priming between words in the local context and the target or to associative or categorical relationships between expected and unexpected targets. Overall our results are consistent with the immediate and incremental activation of perceptual and motor object knowledge and generalized event knowledge during sentence processing.
There is mounting evidence that prosody facilitates grouping the speech stream into syntactically-relevant units (e.g., Hawthorne & Gerken, 2014; Soderstrom, Kemler Nelson, & Jusczyk, 2005). We ask whether prosody's role in syntax acquisition relates to its general acoustic salience or to the learner's acquired knowledge of correlations between prosody and syntax in her native language. English- and Japanese-acquiring 19-month-olds listened to sentences from an artificial grammar with non-native prosody (Japanese or English, respectively), then were tested on their ability to recognize prosodically-marked constituents when the constituents had moved to a new position in the sentence. Both groups were able to use non-native prosody to parse speech into cohesive, reorderable, syntactic constituent-like units. Comparison with Hawthorne & Gerken (2014), in which English-acquiring infants were tested on sentences with English prosody, suggests that 19-month-olds are equally adept at using native and non-native prosody for at least some types of learning tasks and, therefore, that prosody is useful in early syntactic segmentation because of its acoustic salience.
prosody; prosodic bootstrapping; constituents; syntax acquisition; language acquisition; Japanese; English
Phonotactic frequency effects play a crucial role in a number of debates over language processing and representation. It is unclear however, whether these effects reflect prelexical sensitivity to phonotactic frequency, or lexical “gang effects” in speech perception. In this paper, we use Granger causality analysis of MR-constrained MEG/EEG data to understand how phonotactic frequency influences neural processing dynamics during auditory lexical decision. Effective connectivity analysis showed weaker feedforward influence from brain regions involved in acoustic-phonetic processing (superior temporal gyrus) to lexical areas (supramarginal gyrus) for high phonotactic frequency words, but stronger top-down lexical influence for the same items. Low entropy nonwords (nonwords judged to closely resemble real words) showed a similar pattern of interactions between brain regions involved in lexical and acoustic-phonetic processing. These results contradict the predictions of a feedforward model of phonotactic frequency facilitation, but support the predictions of a lexically mediated account.
phonotactic frequency; lexical neighborhood; effective connectivity; magnetoencephalography; Granger causation; speech perception; lexical effect
All natural languages develop devices to communicate who did what to whom. Elicited pantomime provides one model for studying this process, by providing a window into how humans (hearing non-signers) behave in a natural communicative modality (silent gesture) without established conventions from a grammar. Most studies in this paradigm focus on production, although they sometimes make assumptions about how comprehenders would likely behave. Here, we directly assess how naïve speakers of English (Experiments 1 & 2), Korean (Experiment 1), and Turkish (Experiment 2) comprehend pantomimed descriptions of transitive events, which are either semantically reversible (Experiments 1 & 2) or not (Experiment 2). Contrary to previous assumptions, we find no evidence that Person-Person-Action sequences are ambiguous to comprehenders, who simply adopt an agent-first parsing heuristic for all constituent orders. We do find that Person-Action-Person sequences yield the most consistent interpretations, even in native speakers of SOV languages. The full range of behavior in both production and comprehension provides counter-evidence to the notion that producers’ utterances are motivated by the needs of comprehenders. Instead, we argue that production and comprehension are subject to different sets of cognitive pressures, and that the dynamic interaction between these competing pressures can help explain synchronic and diachronic constituent order phenomena in natural human languages, both signed and spoken.
Although the power of statistical learning (SL) in explaining a wide range of linguistic functions is gaining increasing support, relatively little research has focused on this theoretical construct from the perspective of individual differences. However, to be able to reliably link individual differences in a given ability such as language learning to individual differences in SL, three critical theoretical questions should be posed: Is SL a componential or unified ability? Is it nested within other general cognitive abilities? Is it a stable capacity of an individual? Following an initial mapping sentence outlining the possible dimensions of SL, we employed a battery of SL tasks in the visual and auditory modalities, using verbal and non-verbal stimuli, with adjacent and non-adjacent contingencies. SL tasks were administered along with general cognitive tasks in a within-subject design at two time points to explore our theoretical questions. We found that SL, as measured by some tasks, is a stable and reliable capacity of an individual. Moreover, we found SL to be independent of general cognitive abilities such as intelligence or working memory. However, SL is not a unified capacity, so that individual sensitivity to conditional probabilities is not uniform across modalities and stimuli.
Statistical learning; individual differences; predicting linguistic abilities
Phonological properties of the words in a sentence have been shown to affect processing fluency and comprehension. However, the exact role of phonology in sentence comprehension remains unclear. If constituents are stored in working memory during routine processing and accessed through their phonological code, phonological information may exert a pervasive influence on post-lexical comprehension processes such as retrieval for thematic integration. On the other hand, if access to constituents in memory during parsing is guided primarily by syntactic and semantic information, the parser should be isolated from phonologically based effects. In two self-paced reading experiments, we tested whether phonological overlap between distractors and a retrieval target caused retrieval interference during thematic integration. We found that phonological overlap creates difficulty during the initial encoding of the filler, but there was no evidence that phonological overlap caused later interference when the filler was retrieved for thematic integration. Despite effects at encoding, phonological interference did not have a detrimental effect on comprehension. These results suggest that phonological information is not used as a retrieval cue during routine dependency construction in incremental sentence processing. We conclude by considering the potential importance of phonology in parsing under conditions of extraordinary syntactic and/or semantic interference.
sentence processing; sentence comprehension; retrieval interference; phonological interference; working memory
The current study investigated how listeners understand English words that have shorter words embedded in them. A series of auditory-auditory priming experiments assessed the activation of six types of embedded words (2 embedded positions × 3 embedded proportions) under different listening conditions. Facilitation of lexical decision responses to targets (e.g., pig) associated with words embedded in primes (e.g., hamster) indexed activation of the embedded words (e.g., ham). When the listening conditions were optimal, isolated embedded words (e.g., ham) primed their targets in all six conditions (Experiment 1a). Within carrier words (e.g., hamster), the same set of embedded words produced priming only when they were at the beginning or comprised a large proportion of the carrier word (Experiment 1b). When the listening conditions were made suboptimal by expanding or compressing the primes, significant priming was found for isolated embedded words (Experiment 2a), but no priming was produced when the carrier words were compressed/expanded (Experiment 2b). Similarly, priming was eliminated when the carrier words were presented with one segment replaced by noise (Experiment 3). When cognitive load was imposed, priming for embedded words was again found when they were presented in isolation (Experiment 4a), but not when they were embedded in the carrier words (Experiment 4b). The results suggest that both embedded position and proportion play important roles in the activation of embedded words, but that such activation only occurs under unusually good listening conditions.
spoken word recognition; embedded words; priming; processing load
Phonotactic constraints are language-specific patterns in the sequencing of speech sounds. Are these constraints represented at the syllable level (ng cannot begin syllables in English) or at the word level (ng cannot begin words)? In a continuous recognition-memory task, participants more often falsely recognized novel test items that followed than violated the training constraints, whether training and test items matched in word structure (one or two syllables) or position of restricted consonants (word-edge or word-medial position). E.g., learning that ps are onsets and fs codas, participants generalized from pef (one syllable) to putvif (two syllables), and from putvif (word-edge positions) to bufpak (word-medial positions). These results suggest that newly-learned phonotactic constraints are represented at the syllable level. The syllable is a representational unit available and spontaneously used when learning speech-sound constraints. In the current experiments, an onset is an onset and a coda a coda, regardless of word structure or word position.
Adult language acquisition; phonotactic learning; statistical learning; generalization; syllable
Recent research on the effects of letter transposition in Indo-European Languages has shown that readers are surprisingly tolerant of these manipulations in a range of tasks. This evidence has motivated the development of new computational models of reading that regard flexibility in positional coding to be a core and universal principle of the reading process. Here we argue that such approach does not capture cross-linguistic differences in transposed-letter effects, nor do they explain them. To address this issue, we investigated how a simple domain-general connectionist architecture performs in tasks such as letter-transposition and letter substitution when it had learned to process words in the context of different linguistic environments. The results show that in spite of of the neurobiological noise involved in registering letter-position in all languages, flexibility and inflexibility in coding letter order is also shaped by the statistical orthographic properties of words in a language, such as the relative prevalence of anagrams. Our learning model also generated novel predictions for targeted empirical research, demonstrating a clear advantage of learning models for studying visual word recognition.
Connectionist modeling; fundamentalist modeling; letter-position coding; letter-transposition effect; cross-linguistic differences
Several recent papers have reported long-term structural priming effects in experiments where previous patterns of experience with the double object and prepositional object constructions are shown to affect later patterns of language production for those constructions. The experiments reported in this paper address the extent to which these long-term priming effects are modulated by the participants’ patterns of experience with particular verbs within the double object and prepositional object constructions. The results of three experiments show that patterns of experience with particular verbs using the double object or prepositional object constructions do not have much effect on the shape of the longterm structural priming effects reported elsewhere in the literature. These findings lend support to the claim that structural priming is the result of adaptations to the language production system that occur on an abstract, structural level of representation that is separate from representations regarding the behavior of particular lexical items in particular constructions [e.g., Chang, F., Dell, G. S., & Bock, K. (2006). Becoming syntactic. Psychological Review, 113, 234–272]. 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Language production; Structural priming; Lexical effects
It has long been noted that listeners use top-down information from context to guide perception of speech sounds. A recent line of work employing a phenomenon termed ‘perceptual learning for speech’ shows that listeners use top-down information to not only resolve the identity of perceptually ambiguous speech sounds, but also to adjust perceptual boundaries in subsequent processing of speech from the same talker. Even so, the neural mechanisms that underlie this process are not well understood. Of particular interest is whether this type of adjustment comes about because of a retuning of sensitivities to phonetic category structure early in the neural processing stream or whether the boundary shift results from decision-related or attentional mechanisms further downstream. In the current study, neural activation was measured using fMRI as participants categorized speech sounds that were perceptually shifted as a result of exposure to these sounds in lexically-unambiguous contexts. Sensitivity to lexically-mediated shifts in phonetic categorization emerged in right hemisphere frontal and middle temporal regions, suggesting that the perceptual learning for speech phenomenon relies on the adjustment of perceptual criteria downstream from primary auditory cortex. By the end of the session, this same sensitivity was seen in left superior temporal areas, which suggests that a rapidly-adapting system may be accompanied by more slowly evolving shifts in regions of the brain related to phonetic processing.
A central issue in research on speech production is whether or not the retrieval of words from the mental lexicon is a competitive process. An important experimental paradigm to study the dynamics of lexical retrieval is the blocked naming paradigm, in which participants name pictures of objects that are grouped by semantic category (‘homogenous’ or ‘related’ blocks) or not grouped by semantic category (‘heterogeneous’ or ‘unrelated’ blocks). Typically, pictures are repeated multiple times (or cycles) within both related and unrelated blocks. It is known that participants are slower in related than in unrelated blocks when the data are collapsed over all within-block repetitions. This semantic interference effect, as observed in the blocked naming task, is the strongest empirical evidence for the hypothesis of lexical selection by competition. Here we show, contrary to the accepted view, that the default polarity of semantic context effects in the blocked naming paradigm is facilitation, rather than interference. In a series of experiments we find that interference arises only when items repeat within a block, and only because of that repetition: What looks to be ‘semantic interference’ in the blocked naming paradigm is actually less repetition priming in related compared to unrelated blocks. These data undermine the theory of lexical selection by competition and indicate a model in which the most highly activated word is retrieved, regardless of the activation levels of nontarget words. We conclude that the theory of lexical selection by competition, and by extension the important psycholinguistic models based on that assumption, are no longer viable, and frame a new way to approach the question of how words are retrieved in spoken language production.
speech production; semantic interference; semantic facilitation; blocked naming; cyclic naming; lexical retrieval
Attraction interference in language comprehension and production may be as a result of common or different processes. In the present paper, we investigate attraction interference during language comprehension, focusing on the contexts in which interference arises and the time-course of these effects. Using evidence from event-related brain potentials (ERPs) and sentence judgment times, we show that agreement attraction in comprehension is best explained as morphosyntactic interference during memory retrieval. This stands in contrast to attraction as a message-level process involving the representation of the subject NP's number features, which is a strong contributor to attraction in production. We thus argue that the cognitive antecedents of agreement attraction in comprehension are non-identical with those of attraction in production, and moreover, that attraction in comprehension is primarily a consequence of similarity-based interference in cue-based memory retrieval processes. We suggest that mechanisms responsible for attraction during language comprehension are a subset of those involved in language production.
agreement; morphosyntactic processing; P600; retrieval interference; language comprehension
We explored how phonological network structure influences the age of
words’ first appearance in children’s (14–50 months) speech, using
a large, longitudinal corpus of spontaneous child-caregiver interactions. We represent the
caregiver lexicon as a network in which each word is connected to all of its phonological
neighbors, and consider both words’ local neighborhood density
(degree), and also their embeddedness among interconnected
neighborhoods (clustering coefficient and coreness). The
larger-scale structure reflected in the latter two measures is implicated in current
theories of lexical development and processing, but its role in lexical development has
not yet been explored. Multilevel discrete-time survival analysis revealed that children
are more likely to produce new words whose network properties support lexical access for
production: high degree, but low clustering coefficient and coreness. These effects appear
to be strongest at earlier ages and largely absent from 30 months on. These results
suggest that both a word’s local connectivity in the lexicon and its position in
the lexicon as a whole influences when it is learned, and they underscore how general
lexical processing mechanisms contribute to productive vocabulary development.
Phonological development; phonological networks; vocabulary growth; network science; neighborhood density; clustering coefficient; coreness; survival analysis
Distinctive processing is a concept designed to account for precision in memory, both correct responses and avoidance of errors. The principal question addressed in two experiments is how distinctive processing of studied material reduces false alarms to familiar distractors. Jacoby (Jacoby, Kelley, & McElree, 1999) has used the metaphors early selection and late correction to describe two different types of control processes. Early selection refers to limitations on access whereas late correction describes controlled monitoring of accessed information. The two types of processes are not mutually exclusive, and previous research has provided evidence for the operation of both. The data reported here extend previous work to a criterial recollection paradigm and to a recognition memory test. The results of both experiments show that variables that reduce false memory for highly familiar distracters continue to exert their effect under conditions of minimal post-access monitoring. Level of monitoring was reduced in the first experiment through test instructions and in the second experiment through speeded test responding. The results were consistent with the conclusion that both early selection and late correction operate to control accuracy in memory.
People estimate minimal changes in learning when making predictions of learning (POLs) for future study opportunities despite later showing increased performance and an awareness of that increase (Kornell & Bjork, 2009). This phenomenon is conceptualized as a stability bias in judgments about learning. We investigated the malleability of this effect, and whether it reflected people’s underlying beliefs about learning. We manipulated prediction framing to emphasize the role of testing vs. studying on memory and directly measured beliefs about multi-trial study effects on learning by having participants construct predicted learning curves before and after the experiment. Mean POLs were more sensitive to the number of study-test opportunities when performance was framed in terms of study benefits rather than testing benefits and POLs reflected pre-existing beliefs about learning. The stability bias is partially due to framing and reflects discounted beliefs about learning benefits rather than inherent belief in the stability of performance.
Metacognition; Metamemory; Monitoring; Stability Bias; Framing
Implicit causality might enable readers to focus on the imputed cause of an event and make it the default referent of a following pronoun. Alternatively, its effects might arise only when a following explicit cause is integrated with a description of the event. In three probe recognition experiments, in which the participants in the events were of the same sex, the only reliable effect — apart from the advantage of first mention — was that of whether implicit and explicit causes were the same. This effect was independent of whether the probe named the referent of the pronoun. In a fourth experiment, in which the two participants were of different sexes, there was no simple effect of implicit causality, but there was an advantage for the pronoun’s referent. These results are consistent with the view that implicit causality has its effects at integration. We discuss their broader implications for theories of comprehension.