Priming prepositional phrase attachment: Evidence from eye-tracking and event-related potentials
Number of pages
SourceThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67, 3, (2014), pp. 424-454
Article / Letter to editor
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The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
SubjectDI-BCB_DCC_Theme 1: Language and Communication; Psycholinguistics
Three syntactic-priming experiments investigated the effect of structurally similar or dissimilar prime sentences on the processing of target sentences, using eye tracking (Experiment 1) and event-related potentials (ERPs) (Experiments 2 and 3) All three experiments tested readers' response to sentences containing a temporary syntactic ambiguity. The ambiguity occurred because a prepositional phrase modifier (PP-modifier) could attach either to a preceding verb or to a preceding noun. Previous experiments have established that (a) noun-modifying expressions are harder to process than verb-modifying expressions (when test sentences are presented in isolation); and (b) for other kinds of sentences, processing a structurally similar prime sentence can facilitate processing a target sentence. The experiments reported here were designed to determine whether a structurally similar prime could facilitate processing of noun-attached modifiers and whether such facilitation reflected syntactic-structure-building or semantic processes. These findings have implications for accounts of structural priming during online comprehension and for accounts of syntactic representation and processing in comprehension.
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