What is Cognitive Science

Enrichment without coercion

Dr. Roberto de Almeida

Thursday, December 08, 2011, 12:00pm - 07:00pm

Concordia University, Department of Psychology

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In linguistics, psycholinguistics, and cognitive neuroscience, it is almost a consensus that understanding a putatively indeterminate sentence such as "The man began a book" entails a process by which the nominal complement is "coerced" into an activity or that there is some form of interpolation in semantic composition, thus licensing an interpretation such as "The man began reading a book". Most studies have suggested that this process relies to a large extent on the information contained in the lexical representation for "book" which provides the filler event to yield an enriched semantic composition. In this talk I will argue against this view. I will show that psycholinguistic evidence for coercion is slim; that coercion effects stemming from psycholinguistic studies (e.g., longer reading times for "coerced" constructions) do not constitute evidence for lexical-semantic coercion; and that linguistic analysis of indeterminate sentences can account for much of the coercion effects in terms of structurally-determined positions which might serve as triggers for pragmatic enrichment. I will discuss psycholinguistic and fMRI experiments suggesting that attempts to resolve indeterminacy rely on pragmatic rather than on lexical-semantic decompositional processes.

Dr. Roberto de Almeida


"What is Cognitive Science?"

This lunchtime talks series is designed to introduce the University community to issues in Cognitive Science. Cognitive Science is one the the few fields where modern developments in computer science and artificial intelligence promise to shed light on classical problems in psychology and the philosophy of the mind. Ancient questions of how we see the world, understand language, and reason, and questions such as 'how a material system can know about the outside world', are being explored with the powerful new conceptual prosthetics of computer modeling.

The talks in this lunchtime lecture series are every Thursday during the Fall semester from ** 12:00-1:00 ** in the Psychology Building, Room 101 on  Busch Campus.

Note: Talks are also announced by email (with reminders sent the day of the talk) to people who have requested to be placed on our announce list. If you would like to be added to our announce list, please email the Business Office (business_manager@ruccs.rutgers.edu).