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Humanities and Social Sciences Colloquium - Alice Blumenthal-Dramé

Blumenthal Drame

Structural predictions in language processing: A multi-method approach

Dr. Alice Blumenthal-Dramé
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
English Linguistics
Junior Fellow

Structural Predictions in Language Processing: A Multi-Method Approach
When Apr 18, 2016
from 01:15 PM to 02:45 PM
Where FRIAS, Albertstr. 19, Seminar Room
Contact Name
Contact Phone +49 (0)761 203-97362
Attendees universitätsöffentlich / open to university members
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In sentence processing, unpredictable words elicit a well-documented cerebral and behavioural surprise reaction. This has often been taken to indicate that language comprehension does not proceed in a passive "wait-and-see" fashion, but that language users actively anticipate linguistic input based on their prior experience with language. Less is known, however, about violated expectations at more abstract levels of language. What happens, for example, when, after the sentence beginning Zoe handed Daniel, we encounter an unexpected grammatical structure beginning with to (e.g., to the local chief of police) rather than a more expected continuation beginning with a (e.g., a stout glass of dessert wine)?

More specifically, what are the cerebral and behavioural correlates of unexpected grammatical structures, how do readers adapt to them (i.e., do they their expectations change over the course of the experiment, or do they simply stop making any predictions), and how long-lasting and general are these adaptations? This talk will provide an overview of an experiment which attempts to answer these questions on the basis of a multi-method design combining EEG, pupil dilation, skin conductance, and reaction time measures.