ERIC Number: EJ1090040
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Feb
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 40
Quantification, Prediction, and the Online Impact of Sentence Truth-Value: Evidence from Event-Related Potentials
Nieuwland, Mante S.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v42 n2 p316-334 Feb 2016
Do negative quantifiers like "few" reduce people's ability to rapidly evaluate incoming language with respect to world knowledge? Previous research has addressed this question by examining whether online measures of quantifier comprehension match the "final" interpretation reflected in verification judgments. However, these studies confounded quantifier valence with its impact on the unfolding expectations for upcoming words, yielding mixed results. In the current event-related potentials study, participants read negative and positive quantifier sentences matched on cloze probability and on truth-value (e.g., "Most/Few gardeners plant their flowers during the spring/winter for best results"). Regardless of whether participants explicitly verified the sentences or not, true-positive quantifier sentences elicited reduced N400s compared with false-positive quantifier sentences, reflecting the facilitated semantic retrieval of words that render a sentence true. No such facilitation was seen in negative quantifier sentences. However, mixed-effects model analyses (with cloze value and truth-value as continuous predictors) revealed that decreasing cloze values were associated with an interaction pattern between truth-value and quantifier, whereas increasing cloze values were associated with more similar truth-value effects regardless of quantifier. Quantifier sentences are thus understood neither always in 2 sequential stages, nor always in a partial-incremental fashion, nor always in a maximally incremental fashion. Instead, and in accordance with prediction-based views of sentence comprehension, quantifier sentence comprehension depends on incorporation of quantifier meaning into an online, knowledge-based prediction for upcoming words. Fully incremental quantifier interpretation occurs when quantifiers are incorporated into sufficiently strong online predictions for upcoming words.
Descriptors: Experimental Psychology, Sentences, Prediction, Language Usage, Knowledge Level, Comprehension, Semantics, College Students, Foreign Countries, Responses, Diagnostic Tests, Eye Movements, Cloze Procedure
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (Edinburgh)