Retrieval cues and syntactic ambiguity resolution: speed-accuracy tradeoff evidence

Andrea E. Martin, Brian McElree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Language comprehension involves coping with ambiguity and recovering from misanalysis. Syntactic ambiguity resolution is associated with increased reading times, a classic finding that has shaped theories of sentence processing. However, reaction times conflate the time it takes a process to complete with the quality of the behavior-related information available to the system. We therefore used the speed-accuracy tradeoff procedure (SAT) to derive orthogonal estimates of processing time and interpretation accuracy, and tested whether stronger retrieval cues (via semantic relatedness: neighed->horse vs. fell->horse) aid interpretation during recovery. On average, ambiguous sentences took 250ms longer (SAT rate) to interpret than unambiguous controls, demonstrating veridical differences in processing time. Retrieval cues more strongly related to the true subject always increased accuracy, regardless of ambiguity. These findings are consistent with a language processing architecture where cue-driven operations give rise to interpretation, and wherein diagnostic cues aid retrieval, regardless of parsing difficulty or structural uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 24 2018

Fingerprint

Cues
Horses
evidence
Language
interpretation
Semantics
Reaction Time
Uncertainty
Reading
language
available information
diagnostic
coping
comprehension
semantics
time
Syntactic Ambiguity Resolution
Speed-accuracy Tradeoff
uncertainty
Horse

Keywords

  • cue-based retrieval
  • reanalysis
  • retrieval interference
  • Sentence processing
  • speed-accuracy tradeoff

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Cite this

Retrieval cues and syntactic ambiguity resolution : speed-accuracy tradeoff evidence. / Martin, Andrea E.; McElree, Brian.

In: Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 24.01.2018, p. 1-20.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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