Home > Events > LangSci Lunch Talk: Lara Ehrenhofer (LING)
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LangSci Lunch Talk: Lara Ehrenhofer (LING)

Time: 
Thursday, December 07, 2017 - 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM
Location: 
2130 H. J. Patterson (LSC)

 

Nouns and Verbs in Prediction: Evidence from ERPs

 
In understanding language, comprehenders use the process of prediction to rapidly and incrementally extract and use information in the linguistic input. We can investigate this process by looking at the N400, a feature of electrophysiological data whose amplitude tracks the predictedness of particular words in the input. However, this process of prediction does not appear to give equal weight to all types of information. Notably, prior studies of the N400 have shown that it is not sensitive to who’s doing what to who (argument roles): that is, the N400 amplitude to the final verb in a sentence like
(1) “The restaurant owner knew which customer the waitress had served”
is similar to the N400 for
(2) “… which waitress the customer had served.”
Prior work has suggested that the N400 is insensitive to argument roles in contexts where a verb has to be predicted from two preceding nouns because argument roles are hard to use in the absence of a verb. We tested this hypothesis by contrasting noun-noun-verb role reversals (“which waitress the customer had served”) with noun-verb-noun role reversals (“which jockey had thrown the horse”). Our results do not replicate previous findings, showing that in fact, there are noun-noun-verb contexts in which comprehenders can take argument roles into prediction. This suggests that prediction follows both argument-role-dependent and independent routes, which may not be as dependent on verbs as previously thought.
 
 
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Food and ideas bring people together. Our weekly lunch talk series provides students and faculty with the opportunity to present their in-progress work to a supportive, interdisciplinary audience.

Lunch is served starting at 12:15pm.