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Cognition Psychology 215 Emory University Lawrence W.

Barsalou

Topic 9: Language Lecture 9a: Properties of Language

Notes for the movie clip from 2001

The movie "2001 A Space Odyssey" has three parts. The clip we are going to view today comes from part 1, "The Dawn of Man." This part of the movie follows the lives of a troop of early hominids living on the Serengeti plane in Africa. In the beginning (no pun intended here) the apes are herbivores who struggle to find food, hide from predators (such as a cheetah who kills and eats one of their number in the first couple of minutes of the movie), and are chased away from their only water supply by a rival troop of apes. They are completely at the mercy of their environment, and spend most of their time hiding in caves. Early one morning they discover a mysterious black monolith standing in front of their cave. They slowly approach and explore the monolith, which gives off a strange high pitched sound when they touch it. We are going to see three scenes from the first part of the movie. The first scene takes place immediately after the appearance of the monolith. Pay very close attention to the behavior of the ape in the scene, and think about how this relates to the events that occur in second and third scenes.

Properties of language

The evolutionary significance of language Donald (1991, 1993) language evolved to coordinate offline processing between humans
Donald

coordinated offline cognition increases the fitness of a species

Properties of language

The evolution of cognition in humans Donald (1991, 1993) stage 1: online cognition

stage 2: bodily control of offline cognition

stage 3: spoken control of offline cognition

Properties of language

The evolution of cognition in humans Donald (1991, 1993) stage 4: written control of offline cognition

conclusions

Properties of language

Other important evolutionary developments Tomasello, Kruger, and Ratner (1993) joint attention

perspective taking

language and cultural knowledge require these abilities

Properties of language

Language universals universal properties of language across cultures and individuals some (of many) examples
universality

development

complexity

discrete specialized signs

arbitrary mappings from signs to meanings

infinite meanings from finite signs

many common structural characteristics

Properties of language

Levels of structure in language all languages share the same six levels of structure

(1) phonetics

(2) phonology

(3) morphology

Properties of language

Levels of structure in language (4) syntax

(5) semantics

(6) pragmatics

Properties of language

An example of using methods from cognitive psychology to study language (1) phonetics (2) phonology (3) morphology lexical processing i.e., the subset of morphemes that are words (4) syntax (5) semantics (6) pragmatics

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Marslen-Wilson

Tyler

Top-down processes in lexical access Marslen-Wilson and Tyler (1980) accessing words and other morphemes in the lexicon

reflects both bottom-up and top-down sources of information

task
1. subjects heard a word 2. subjects heard a sentence if the word was present, they pressed a button as quickly as possible if the word wasnt present, subjects did nothing

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Manipulations and predictions Marslen-Wilson and Tyler (1980) manipulations


1. sentence meaningfulness subjects heard a target word in 1 of 3 types of sentences (e.g., stream) normal: Julia pitched her tent in the forest beside a small stream. anomalous: Julia drove her tent in the ozone beside a disturbing stream. random: Beside in drove tent disturbing Julia the her a ozone stream. 2. target position: early vs. late subjects heard the target at word positions 1 through 10 (e.g., tent (4) vs. stream (10)) normal: Julia pitched her tent in the forest beside a small stream. anomalous: Julia drove her tent in the ozone beside a disturbing stream. random: Beside in drove tent disturbing Julia the her a ozone stream.

predictions
as top-down information increases, lexical access needs less bottom-up information, and proceeds faster two specific predictions, reflecting the two manipulations 1. as sentences become more meaningful, targets in the same position will receive more top-down support and be categorized faster 2. as word position becomes later, targets will receive more top-down support from earlier words and be categorized faster
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Top-down effects Marslen-Wilson and Tyler (1980) meaningfulness effect


random: 358 msec anomalous: 331 msec normal: 273 msec

correlations of word position with categorization time


random: -.21 anomalous: -.87 normal: -.78

correlations of word length with categorization time


random: .93 anomalous: .73 normal: .57

early word categorization in normal sentences


average word length was 369 msec average time to categorize these words was estimated to be about 200 msec!

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Top-down effects Marslen-Wilson and Tyler (1980) top-down information from syntax and semantics constrains lexical access

lexical access can occur before phonemic input is complete

While hiking in the jungle, Maria saw a huge elephant.

While hiking in the jungle, Maria saw a huge elegant house.

syntactic and semantic representations are updated immediately

Properties of language

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Another example of using methods from cognitive psychology to study language (1) phonetics (2) phonology (3) morphology (4) syntax (5) semantics (6) pragmatics

Properties of language

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The contextual interpretation of utterances Gibbs (1979) literal meaning


Gibbs

Can you pass the salt?

conversational implicatures Please pass the salt.

two theories of how conversational implicatures are computed 1. compute the literal meaning first, reject when incongruent, infer the implicature 2. compute the implicature automatically based on the context

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Method Gibbs (1979) method subjects read a passage subjects then one of two final sentences: direct (literal) version vs. indirect (implied) version predictions for the time to read the final sentence literal-first theory the direct version should be faster than the indirect version, because the indirect version requires both literal understanding and inference generation automatic implicature theory the indirect version should be equally fast, because the inference is drawn automatically without computing the literal meaning Example of a passage One morning, John felt too sick to go to school. The night before, he and his friend got very drunk. Then they went surfing without their wetsuits. Because of this, John caught a bad cold. He was lying in bed when his mother stormed in. When she started to open the window, John groaned: Examples of final sentences Direct version: Do not open the window. Indirect version: Must you open the window?
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Results Gibbs (1979) Final sentence


4000

Reading Time (msec)

3500 3000 2500 2000 Direct Indirect Passage bias

conclusion

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The neural bases of language: Traditional views importance of the left hemisphere

speech production and Brocas aphasia

speech comprehension and Wernickes aphasia

from Gazzaniga, Ivry, and Mangun (1998)

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The neural bases of language: More recent views Gazzaniga, Ivry, and Mangun (1998) the importance of brain areas that adjoin Brocas and Wernickes areas

Gazzaniga

long-distance subcortical connections

simultaneous processing in production and comprehension areas

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The neural bases of language: More recent views Gazzaniga, Ivry, and Mangun (1998) anatomical versus physiological bases

three examples

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Preface to the assigned reading and to the next in-class assignment

for the next class meeting, read the Zwaan and Madden paper as you read the paper, study the experiments that Zwaan and his colleagues performed to assess modality-specific representations in comprehension subjects read a sentence or text subjects then see a picture or series of pictures subjects then respond to the picture(s) Zwaan and his colleagues have used this basic experimental approach across many experiments the findings typically indicate the presence of modality-specific representations your assignment is to think of another kind of experiment--not described in the article--that uses this same basic approach, and to state your prediction for it you will be asked to write about your hypothetical experiment and predictions on the next in-class exercise

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Bibliography
Bradlow, A.R., Nygaard, L.C., & Pisoni, D. B. (1999). Effects of talker, rate, and amplitude variation on recognition memory for spoken words. Perception & Psychophysics, 61, 206-219. Chomsky, N. (1957). Syntactic structures. The Hague: Mouton. Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of a theory of syntax. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Donald, M. (1991). Origins of the modern mind: Three stages in the evolution of culture and cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Donald, M. (1993). Precis of "Origins of the modern mind: Three stages in the evolution of culture and cognition." Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 16, 739-791. Gazzaniga, M.S., Ivry, R.B., & Mangun, G.R. (1998). Cognitive neuroscience: The biology of the mind. New York: Norton. Gibbs, R. (1979). Contextual effects in understanding indirect requests. Discourse Processes, 2, 1-10. Goldberg, A.E. (1995). Constructions: A construction grammar approach to argument structure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Kaschak, M.P., & Glenberg, A. M. (2000). Constructing meaning: The role of affordances and grammatical constructions in sentence comprehension. Journal of Memory & Language, 43, 508-529. Marslen-Wilson, W.D., & Tyler, L.K. (1980). The temporal structure of spoken language understanding. Cognition, 8, 1-71. Nygaard, L.C., Burt, S.A., & Queen, J. S. (2000). Surface form typicality and asymmetric transfer in episodic memory for spoken words. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 26, 1228-1244. Nygaard, L.C., & Queen, J.S. (2000). Effects of affective tone of voice on spoken word recognition. Under review. Tomasello, M., Kruger, A., & Ratner, H. (1993). Cultural learning. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 16, 495552.
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