Our lab is interested in the ways in which linguistic representations relate to online processing. To investigate these relations, we use a variety of behavioral and neurolinguistic approaches, with a particular emphasis on electrophysiology (EEG). Although we examine a range of phenomena, the current focus is on the various syntactic, semantic, and morphological aspects involved in the processing of compounds in a variety of languages, including Icelandic, German and English.
Head Reanalysis in German Compounds
As a follow up the results from our study of Icelandic compounds, we turn to German compounds to test for the effect of reanalyzing which noun in the head noun. By comparing compounds in which the second constituent is expected to those in which it isn't we hope to find the effects we find in Icelandic. [Alan Beretta, Joe Jalbert, Tyler Roberts]
Processing of Anaphoric and Logophoric Reflexives
This study looks at the distinction between anaphoric reflexives and logophoric reflexives found in the literature. Differences in the neuro-linguistic processing of these two types of reflexives (Harris et al. 2000) suggest that the theoretical distinction suggested by Reinhart and Reuland (1993) is reflected in sentence processing. This study looks to test that claim by controlling for the thematic role of the reflexive, as well looking at the effect of illusory antecedents that might distract from finding the appropriate antecedent. [Joe Jalbert, Alan Beretta]
Perceptual change in L2 Learners
This research looks at changes in the perception of L1 and L2 phonemes and allophones as exposure to L2 increases. We utilize the mismatch negativity response (MMN) to track categorical perception in listeners of varying L2 proficiency. We can see not only the influence that a learner's L1 has on L2 perception, but also at how L2 experience can alter perception of L1 contrasts. [Drew Trotter, Karthik Durvasula, Alan Beretta]
Laryngeal Underspecification in English Fricatives
Generative phonological theories over the last few decades has argued for the need for sub-segmental features. Furthermore, even though segments might be pronounced with a lot of phonological/phonetic features, many of the features are actually predictable and don't need to be stored in underlying/lexical representations (phonemes). This project is designed to probe for phonological features, and further probe for featural underspecification. In a recent line of research (initiated by Eulitz and Lahiri (2004)), the “varying standards” Mismatch Negativity paradigm has been utilized to generate phoneme-specific MMN responses, and asymmetries in the MMN to minimally contrasting phoneme pairs have been argued to provide neurobiological evidence for underspecified lexical representations (Cornell et all., 2011; V. Felder, 2006; Friedrich et al., 2008; Lahiri & Reetz, 2010; J. Obleser et al., 2004). We use this paradigm to probe for underspecification of laryngeal features in fricatives in American English. [Karthik Durvasula, Drew Trotter]
Processing of Escher Sentences
This study explores how the brain interprets a particularly robust class of illusory sentences known as Escher Sentences, with a classic example such as "More people have been to Russia than I have". Specifically, this research looks at what neural mechanisms are responsible for creating a reanalysis that is required to arrive at an acceptable interpretation, given that these sentences elicit an impossible semantic comparison. [Patrick Kelley, Alan Beretta]
Portions and Sorts in Icelandic Compounds
An ERP study investigated the processing of mass nouns used to convey ‘portions’ vs. ‘sorts’ interpretations in Icelandic. The sorts interpretation requires semantic Coercion to a count noun; the portions interpretation entails extra syntactic processing. Furthermore, we examine the effects of having to revise an initial commitment to head-noun status. When another noun follows the mass noun (creating a compound), the second noun becomes the head-noun. We hypothesized, for Icelandic, there would be no effect for Extra Syntax because the compound should have been built before the second noun was encountered; by contrast, for the Coercion and Neutral conditions, processing costs would be incurred to detect and reconfigure the second noun as the head. These predictions were largely borne out (early and sustained anterior negativities).[Drew Trotter, Karthik Durvasula, Curt Anderson, Alan Beretta]
Interested in learning more about our research or perhaps becoming a participant? Get in touch using our Contact form or stop by to visit the lab in B418 Wells Hall.