Skip to toolbar

Tag: Grammar

Effects of metric hierarchy and rhyme predictability on word duration in The Cat in the Hat

Published in: Cognition, Volume 174, May 2018, 71-81 Abstract “Word durations convey many types of linguistic information, including intrinsic lexical features like length and frequency and contextual features like syntactic and semantic structure. The current study was designed to investigate whether hierarchical metric structure and rhyme predictability account for durational variation over and above other features in productions of a rhyming, metrically-regular children’s book: The Cat in the Hat (Dr. Seuss, 1957). One-syllable word durations and inter-onset intervals were modeled as functions of segment number, lexical frequency, word class, syntactic structure, repetition, and font emphasis. Consistent with prior work, factors predicting longer word durations and… Read More

Alternative Solutions to a Language Design Problem: The Role of Adjectives and Gender Marking in Efficient Communication

Published in: Topics in Cognitive Science, Volume 10, Issue 1, 209-224 Abstract “A central goal of typological research is to characterize linguistic features in terms of both their functional role and their fit to social and cognitive systems. One long‐standing puzzle concerns why certain languages employ grammatical gender. In an information theoretic analysis of German noun classification, Dye, Milin, Futrell, and Ramscar (2017) enumerated a number of important processing advantages gender confers. Yet this raises a further puzzle: If gender systems are so beneficial to processing, what does this mean for languages that make do without them? Here, we compare the… Read More

What can autism teach us about the role of sensorimotor systems in higher cognition? New clues from studies on language, action semantics, and abstract emotional concept processing

Published in: Cortex, Volume 100, March 2018, 149-190 Abstract “Within the neurocognitive literature there is much debate about the role of the motor system in language, social communication and conceptual processing. We suggest, here, that autism spectrum conditions (ASC) may afford an excellent test case for investigating and evaluating contemporary neurocognitive models, most notably a neurobiological theory of action perception integration where widely-distributed cell assemblies linking neurons in action and perceptual brain regions act as the building blocks of many higher cognitive functions. We review a literature of functional motor abnormalities in ASC, following this with discussion of their neural correlates and aberrancies… Read More

When syntax meets action: Brain potential evidence of overlapping between language and motor sequencing

Published in: Cortex, Volume 100, March 2018, 40-51 Abstract “This study aims to extend the embodied cognition approach to syntactic processing. The hypothesis is that the brain resources to plan and perform motor sequences are also involved in syntactic processing. To test this hypothesis, Event-Related brain Potentials (ERPs) were recorded while participants read sentences with embedded relative clauses, judging for their acceptability (half of the sentences contained a subject-verb morphosyntactic disagreement). The sentences, previously divided into three segments, were self-administered segment-by-segment in two different sequential manners: linear or non-linear. Linear self-administration consisted of successively pressing three buttons with three consecutive fingers in the… Read More

Improved statistical learning abilities in adult bilinguals

Published in: Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Volume 21, Issue 2, 427-433 Abstract “Using multiple languages may confer distinct advantages in cognitive control, yet it is unclear whether bilingualism is associated with better implicit statistical learning, a core cognitive ability underlying language. We tested bilingual adults on a challenging task requiring simultaneous learning of two miniature grammars characterized by different statistics. We found that participants learned each grammar significantly better than chance and both grammars equally well. Crucially, a validated continuous measure of bilingual dominance predicted accuracy scores for both artificial grammars in a generalized linear model. The study thus demonstrates the… Read More

From meaning to categorization: The hierarchical recruitment of brain circuits selective for action verbs

Published in: Cortex, Volume 100, March 2018, 95-100 Abstract “Sensorimotor and affective brain systems are known to be involved in language processing. However, to date it is still debated whether this involvement is a crucial step of semantic processing or, on the contrary, it is dependent on the specific context or strategy adopted to solve a task at hand. The present electroencephalographic (EEG) study is aimed at investigating which brain circuits are engaged when processing written verbs. By aligning event-related potentials (ERPs) both to the verb onset and to the motor response indexing the accomplishment of a semantic task of categorization, we were… Read More

The neural exploitation hypothesis and its implications for an embodied approach to language and cognition: Insights from the study of action verbs processing and motor disorders in Parkinson’s disease

Published in: Cortex, Volume 100, March 2018, 215-225 Abstract “As it is widely known, Parkinson’s disease is clinically characterized by motor disorders such as the loss of voluntary movement control, including resting tremor, postural instability, and bradykinesia (Bocanegra et al., 2015; Helmich, Hallett, Deuschl, Toni, & Bloem, 2012; Liu et al., 2006; Rosin, Topka, & Dichgans, 1997). In the last years, many empirical studies (e.g., Bocanegra et al., 2015; Spadacenta et al., 2012) have also shown that the processing of action verbs is selectively impaired in patients affected by this neurodegenerative disorder. In the light of these findings, it has been suggested that Parkinson disorder can be interpreted within an embodied cognition framework… Read More

Production of verbs related to body movement in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinson’s Disease (PD)

Published in: Cortex, Volume 100, March 2018, 127-139 Abstract “Theories of grounded cognition propose that action verb knowledge relies in part on motor processing regions, including premotor cortex. Accordingly, impaired action verb knowledge in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is thought to be due to motor system degeneration. Upper motor neuron disease in ALS degrades the motor cortex and related pyramidal motor system, while disease in PD is centered in the basal ganglia and can spread to frontostriatal areas that are important to language functioning. These anatomical distinctions in disease may yield subtle differences in the action verb impairment between patient groups. Here we compare verbs where the… Read More

A systematic linguistic profile of spontaneous narrative speech in pre-symptomatic and early stage Huntington’s disease

Published in: Cortex, Volume 100, March 2018, 71-83 Abstract “Cognitive decline accompanying the clinically more salient motor symptoms of Huntington’s disease (HD) has been widely noted and can precede motor symptoms onset. Less clear is how such decline bears on language functions in everyday life, though a small number of experimental studies have revealed difficulties with the application of rule-based aspects of language in early stages of the disease. Here we aimed to determine whether there is a systematic linguistic profile that characterizes spontaneous narrative speech in both pre-manifest and/or early manifest HD, and how it is related to striatal degeneration and neuropsychological profiles. Twenty-eight early-stage patients… Read More

Word selection processing in Parkinson’s disease: When nouns are more difficult than verbs

Published in: Cortex, Volume 100, March 2018, 8-20 Abstract “Patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are impaired in verb production. Interpretations range from grammatical deficits to semantic-conceptual decay of action representation. The verb production deficit in PD can also be considered a dysexecutive disorder, specifically, a deficit of selection processing during word production, due to corticostriatal damage. Producing verbs is “more difficult” than producing nouns, because verb-forms must be selected from a large set of word-forms which share the verb-root, and the set of possible verb-forms is larger than the set of possible noun-forms when a noun has to be produced. However, if we devise a condition in… Read More