The goal of this research has been to better understand the nature of expectancy generation in sentence comprehension. In the current proposal, we focus specifically on the role of event knowledge in guiding expectancies. The focus is on expectancy generation both because there is empirical evidence that it plays a role in language processing, and because a comprehender's expectations as she processes a sentence provide a valuable diagnostic for addressing three central issues in sentence processing: What information is available to the comprehender? When do different sources of information become available? and How do different classes of information interact? Theoretically, our perspective reflects an emphasis on early information use, nonlinear interactions among knowledge sources, and the importance of both event-based semantic knowledge and statistical patterns of language usage, all of which are characteristics of constraint-based approaches and connectionist models. The research methodology involves a combination of corpus analyses, and human experiments, including extensive norming procedures and on-line methodologies. One important result of research in the previous period was to reveal the important role played by factors that are traditionally thought of as extra-linguistic (e.g., knowledge of event types and typical situations). Although in principle a verb-based (i.e., purely linguistic) account might be possible, some phenomena appear to be more insightfully understood as reflecting such world knowledge. This is especially the case when expectations appear to be guided by complex interactions between a verb and its multiple arguments (or event adjuncts). Such interactions would be difficult to encode within a verb's lexical representation. Accordingly, the research proposed for the next period reflects this richer view of the factors that guide sentence processing. In particular, understanding the role of event- and situation-based knowledge in the generation of expectancies during sentence processing becomes the guiding theoretical goal that motivates the research. In addition, we focus on how such knowledge might emerge in childhood as a result of experience. Understanding the mechanisms by which language is acquired in children and processed in adults provides a necessary foundation for clinical-applications that seek to diagnose and remediate language disorders that result from trauma, developmental disorders, or disease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
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Language and Communication Study Section (LCOM)
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Mccardle, Peggy D
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University of California San Diego
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Schools of Arts and Sciences
La Jolla
United States
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Borovsky, Arielle; Ellis, Erica M; Evans, Julia L et al. (2016) Semantic Structure in Vocabulary Knowledge Interacts With Lexical and Sentence Processing in Infancy. Child Dev 87:1893-1908
Borovsky, Arielle; Ellis, Erica M; Evans, Julia L et al. (2016) Lexical leverage: category knowledge boosts real-time novel word recognition in 2-year-olds. Dev Sci 19:918-932
Metusalem, Ross; Kutas, Marta; Urbach, Thomas P et al. (2016) Hemispheric asymmetry in event knowledge activation during incremental language comprehension: A visual half-field ERP study. Neuropsychologia 84:252-71
Ellis, Erica M; Borovsky, Arielle; Elman, Jeffrey L et al. (2015) Novel word learning: An eye-tracking study. Are 18-month-old late talkers really different from their typical peers? J Commun Disord 58:143-57
Borovsky, Arielle; Sweeney, Kim; Elman, Jeffrey L et al. (2014) Real-time interpretation of novel events across childhood. J Mem Lang 73:1-14
Rabovsky, Milena; McRae, Ken (2014) Simulating the N400 ERP component as semantic network error: insights from a feature-based connectionist attractor model of word meaning. Cognition 132:68-89
Atchley, Rachel M; Hare, Mary L (2013) MEMORY FOR POETRY: MORE THAN MEANING? Int J Cogn Linguist 4:35-50
Borovsky, Arielle; Burns, Erin; Elman, Jeffrey L et al. (2013) Lexical activation during sentence comprehension in adolescents with history of Specific Language Impairment. J Commun Disord 46:413-27
Borovsky, Arielle; Kutas, Marta; Elman, Jeffrey L (2013) Getting it right: word learning across the hemispheres. Neuropsychologia 51:825-37
Borovsky, Arielle; Elman, Jeffrey L; Fernald, Anne (2012) Knowing a lot for one's age: Vocabulary skill and not age is associated with anticipatory incremental sentence interpretation in children and adults. J Exp Child Psychol 112:417-36

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