Three experiments are reported that showed effects of "structure priming," the tendency to repeat syntactic structure across successive sentences. These effects were demonstrated in a previously untested language, Dutch. All experiments studied spoken sentence production. Importantly, pre-experimental baselines were measured for all target structures in order to assess possible effects of frequency on the magnitude of priming effect. We obtained priming with dative sentences, including datives with medially placed prepositional phrases, a sentence type not tested before. In one experiment we obtained priming effects with passives, including passives with sentence-final verbs, which also have never been tested before. However, we failed to obtain priming effects with active transitives. A comparison with the baseline data suggested that priming is not related to baseline frequency. Further, the results allowed us to draw an empirical generalization: Structure priming is a relatively long-term event, lasting at least several trials. The implications of these findings are discussed.
Abstract& Monitoring refers to a process of quality control designed to optimize behavioral outcome. Monitoring for action errors manifests itself in an error-related negativity in event-related potential (ERP) studies and in an increase in activity of the anterior cingulate in functional magnetic resonance imaging studies. Here we report evidence for a monitoring process in perception, in particular, language perception, manifesting itself in a late positivity in the ERP. This late positivity, the P600, appears to be triggered by a conflict between two interpretations, one delivered by the standard syntactic algorithm and one by a plausibility heuristic which combines individual word meanings in the most plausible way. To resolve this conflict, we propose that the brain reanalyzes the memory trace of the perceptual input to check for the possibility of a processing error. Thus, as in Experiment 1, when the reader is presented with semantically anomalous sentences such as, ''The fox that shot the poacher. . .,'' full syntactic analysis indicates a semantic anomaly, whereas the word-based heuristic leads to a plausible interpretation, that of a poacher shooting a fox. That readers actually pursue such a word-based analysis is indicated by the fact that the usual ERP index of semantic anomaly, the socalled N400 effect, was absent in this case. A P600 effect appeared instead. In Experiment 2, we found that even when the word-based heuristic indicated that only part of the sentence was plausible (e.g
In the language domain, most studies of error monitoring have been devoted to language production. However, in language perception, errors are made as well and we are able to detect them. According to the monitoring theory of language perception, a strong conflict between what is expected and what is observed triggers reanalysis to check for possible perceptual errors, a process reflected by the P600. This is at variance with the dominant view that the P600 reflects syntactic reanalysis or repair, after syntactic violations or ambiguity. In the present study, the prediction of the monitoring theory of language perception was tested, that only a strong conflict between expectancies triggers reanalysis to check for possible perceptual errors, reflected by the P600. Therefore, we manipulated plausibility, and hypothesized that when a critical noun is mildly implausible in the given sentence (e.g., "The eye consisting of among other things a pupil, iris, and eyebrow ..."), a mild conflict arises between the expected and unexpected event; integration difficulties arise due to the unexpectedness but they are resolved successfully, thereby eliciting an N400 effect. When the noun is deeply implausible however (e.g., "The eye consisting of among other things a pupil, iris, and sticker ..."), a strong conflict arises; integration fails and reanalysis is triggered, eliciting a P600 effect. Our hypothesis was confirmed; only when the conflict between the expected and unexpected event is strong enough, reanalysis is triggered.
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