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LINA02H3 Lecture Notes - Lexical Decision Task, Psycholinguistics, Word Association

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Chandan Narayan

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Psycholinguistics: study of comprehension, speech production, acquisition
Most of psycholinguistics cannot be observed, have to be inferred on the basis of
Slips of the tongue Spoonerisms
o The initial consonants are usually switched between words
Tells us that sentences must be planned before they’re said
o Bases that morphemes are attached to are switched as well
This tells that morphemes, not words, are the basis of the
Lexical decision tasks
o The mental lexicon is different than a dictionary it’s flexible, can
incorporate new words, it’s faster to use, it’s not just organized by the first
letter of the word.
o This is shown by the tip-of-the-tongue occurrences we can’t remember a
word so we find it by rhymes, word association, meaning sound = mind is
o Word primitives hypothesis
1. Words as primitives: each word is a separate entry in the mental
2. Morphemes as primitives: when we process speech, we
decompose morphemes in order to sort them
a. This has the advantage of lexical economy
o Lexical decision task
Subject must decide whether a word on a screen is a word or not.
They are studied based on their response time/response latency
(time it takes to respond) and response accuracy
They have to use their mental lexicon in order to make their
It shows that it takes longer to decide on a multimorphemic word
than a word with a single morpheme (indecision vs. deciding.)
People also take longer with words than are used left often than
words than are used in everyday life Frequency Effect
Words that are harder to pronounce also take longer while more
pronouncable words, even nonsense words, take less time.
o Like the lexical decision task, a word to be judged (the target) is
presented. However, it is preceded by a stimulus (the prime)
o The study is based on whether the prime has an effect on the target
o Priming effect: a semantically related prime (cat-dog) makes a faster
response time than a non-semantically related prime (pen-dog)
Sentence processing
o Parsing: the automatic analysis of a sentence
Timed reading
o Bar pressing exercise: read a sentence, read one word at a time, get next
word by pressing bar. This study measures the time to hit the bar.
Takes longer for content words verbs, nouns
Less time for function words conjunctions, prepositions
Eye movements
o Measure saccades (movement of eyes while reading)
o Eye tracking
Fixation time is longer for less-frequent words and typically focused
on content words
Regressive saccades (backtracking) is due to miscomprehension
Garden path sentences
Is grammatical but are called so because their meaning leads the reader down
the wrong path of understanding
Cause regressive saccades as reader has to work to fully understand
Result in minimal attachment: we do not project new syntactic modes unless we
really have to.
Also results in late closure: we prefer to attach words to a node we’ve already
understood than one we don’t.
Even after we get the right meaning, we are still more likely to repeat the first,
wrong answer.