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Verb-argument representations and world knowledge in language comprehension (talk recording available)
Dr. Michael Walsh Dickey
Tuesday, September 10, 2013, 01:00pm - 02:00pm
University of Pittsburgh, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
This talk describes work aimed at disentangling the contributions of language and non-language information to rapid language comprehension. The particular focus of this work is verbs – at the center of most/all sentences, in English and every other language, and a very common locus of impairment in aphasia. Recent work (e.g., Hare, et al., 2009; Metusalem, 2012) has blurred the line between language-specific and non-linguistic information in verb-argument processing, arguing that the apparent rapid use of verb-specific information (like selectional restrictions) may in fact be reduced to activation of non-linguistic event-related representations in long-term memory. We describe results from three studies (two reading and one visual world) arguing against such a conclusion. Across the studies, there is an advantage for the use of verb-specific knowledge for the prediction and rapid integration of verbal arguments, among both unimpaired adults and adults with aphasia.
Furthermore, even adults with measurable impairments in their access to non-linguistic event representations show relatively intact verb-argument processing. Together, these findings suggest that selectional restrictions rapidly influence processing and are used differently from event-related world knowledge during sentence comprehension (e.g. Warren & McConnell, 2007; Paczynski & Kuperberg, 2012)