Poster F67, Tuesday, March 28, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
An electrophysiological investigation of noisy channel sentences
Veena Dwivedi1, Victoria Witte1, Janahan Selvanayagam1, Edward Gibson2; 1Brock University, 2MIT
We used event-related brain potentials (ERPs) in order to investigate the interpretation of sentences that contained errors of deletion vs. errors of insertion. Noisy channel models propose that deletion errors are more likely to occur than insertions. As such, perceivers are more likely to revise sentences containing errors of deletion vs. insertion. This difference should result in empirical differences observed in behavioural and neural responses to these different error types. To this end, we investigated plausible (ditransitive) sentences such as (i) The aunt mailed the silly letter to her cherished niece by post as compared to sentences that deleted the preposition to, resulting in (double object) implausible sentences such as (ii) #The aunt mailed the silly letter_ her cherished niece by post. In addition, related plausible (double object) sentences such as (iii) The aunt mailed her cherished niece the silly letter by post were modified with the insertion of to resulting in an implausible (ditransitive) sentence such as (iv) The aunt mailed her cherished niece #to the silly letter by post. All sentences were followed by yes/no comprehension questions such as Did the cherished niece receive something?/Did the silly letter receive someone? Results confirmed that participants treat these errors differently. Deletion errors were responded to with significantly less accuracy than insertions (44% vs. 51%). Furthermore, whereas ERP waveforms for both error types, as compared to their controls, exhibited slow-going negativity, this difference was markedly greater for deletion error sentences, thereby extending current and previous behavioural results.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Syntax