Impact of Animacy and Aspectual Information on Semantic and Syntactic Processing: Evidence from Event-Related Potentials.
Abstract: Part I examined the role of animacy in verb-argument processing.
Experiment 1 found distinct patterns of neural activation in the processing of verb
arguments that violated the animacy restrictions of the preceding verb compared to
violations of real-world knowledge. Experiment 2 found that animacy affected the processing
of subject noun arguments as well as the subsequent verb. ... read moreImportantly, this processing was
independent of thematic role assignment. Together, these results underscore animacy's
critical role in semantic and syntactic processing. Part II examine the time-course of
aspectual interpretation. Experiment 3 found that aspectual information is computed as soon
as it becomes licensed. Additionally it demonstrated that processing costs associated with
iterative coercion are independent of iterativity itself as well as general shifts in
aspectual interpretation. Experiment 4 found that iterative interpretation of punctual
verbs in the progressive is independent of neural processing associated with aspectual
coercion. Additionally, the results indicated that high and low proficiency language users
differ qualitatively in aspectual interpretation requiring enriched composition but
quantitatively when aspectual interpretation is complex but compositionally transparent.
Together the two studies suggest that online event interpretation relies on a complex
interplay of multiple neural substrates. KEYWORDS: semantic, syntactic, verb argument,
animacy, lexical aspect, grammatical aspect, aspectual coercion, ERP
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2012.
Submitted to the Dept. of Psychology.
Advisor: Gina Kuperberg.
Committee: Phillip Holcomb, Ray Jackendoff, and Tali Ditman-Brunyé.
Keywords: Cognitive psychology, Language, and Neurosciences.read less