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Benefits and costs of lexical decomposition and semantic integration during the processing of transparent and opaque English compounds

Six lexical decision experiments were conducted to examine the influence of complex structure on the processing speed of English compounds. All experiments revealed that semantically transparent compounds (e.g., rosebud) were processed more quickly than matched monomorphemic words (e.g., giraffe). Opaque compounds (e.g., hogwash) were also processed more quickly than monomorphemic words. However, when the experimental materials and/or procedure encouraged decomposition/integration, this advantage disappeared. This research suggests that morphological decomposition initiated by the existence of complex structure results in the availability of both the lexical and semantic representations of compound constituents, regardless of whether the compounds are transparent or opaque, and that meaning composition is attempted. This meaning composition further speeds up transparent compound processing beyond lexical facilitation but slows down opaque compound processing because the computed meaning for opaque compounds conflicts with the retrieved meaning.

from the Journal of Memory and Language

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Beyond Capacity Limitations II: Effects of Lexical Processes on Word Recall in Verbal Working Memory Tasks in Children With and Without Specific Language Impairment

Conclusions: Performance on verbal working memory span tasks for both SLI and CA children is influenced by word frequency, lexical cohorts, and semantic representations. Future studies need to examine the extent to which verbal working memory capacity is a cognitive construct independent of extant language knowledge representations.

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Concept Selection and Developmental Effects in Bilingual Speech Production

The present study investigates the locus of language selection in less and more proficient language learners, specifically testing differential predictions of La Heij’s (2005) concept selection model (CSM) and Kroll and Stewart’s (1994) revised hierarchical model (RHM). Less and more proficient English dominant learners of Spanish participated in a Stroop translation task that included semantically related and unrelated word or picture distracters. The results for the more proficient learners provide support for the CSM as well as the RHM. The results for the less proficient learners provide support for the RHM and demonstrate the continued reliance on lexical level links and the difficulty in accessing the conceptual store during second language production. The selection by proficiency model of bilingual speech production is discussed.

from Language Learning

Processing trade-offs in the reading of Dutch derived words

This eye-tracking study explores visual recognition of Dutch suffixed words (e.g., plaats+ing “placing”) embedded in sentential contexts, and provides new evidence on the interplay between storage and computation in morphological processing. We show that suffix length crucially moderates the use of morphological properties. In words with shorter suffixes, we observe a stronger effect of full-forms (derived word frequency) on reading times than in words with longer suffixes. Also, processing times increase if the base word (plaats) and the suffix (-ing) differ in the amount of information carried by their morphological families (sets of words that share the base or the suffix). We model this imbalance of informativeness in the morphological families with the information-theoretical measure of relative entropy and demonstrate its predictivity for the processing times. The observed processing trade-offs are discussed in the context of current models of morphological processing.

from the Journal of Memory and Language

Processing the Chinese language: An introduction

Abstract
The Chinese language possesses linguistic properties that are distinct from those of the most widely studied European languages. Given such uniqueness, research on the neurocognitive processing of Chinese not only contributes to our understanding of language-specific cognitive processes but also sheds light on the universality of psycholinguistic models developed on the basis of these European languages. In this Introduction, we briefly review neurocognitive studies on the processing of Chinese in the past ten years, summarizing existing findings concerning lexical, sentential, and discourse processing in Chinese.

from Language and Cognitive Processes

Discrimination and Reliance on Conceptual Fluency Cues are Inversely Related in Patients with Mild Alzheimer’s Disease

Abstract
The present study investigated the time-course of semantic integration in auditory compound word processing. Compounding is a productive mechanism of word formation that is used frequently in many languages. Specifically, we examined whether semantic integration is incremental or is delayed until the head, the last constituent in German, is available. Stimuli were compounds consisting of three nouns, and the semantic plausibility of the second and the third constituent was manipulated independently (high vs. low). Participants’ task was to listen to the compounds and evaluate them semantically. Event-related brain potentials in response to the head constituents showed an increased N400 for less plausible head constituents, reflecting the lexical-semantic integration of all three compound constituents. In response to the second (less plausible) constituents, an increased N400 with a central-left scalp distribution was observed followed by a parietal positivity. The occurrence of this N400 effect during the presentation of the second constituents suggests that the initial two non-head constituents are immediately integrated. The subsequent positivity might be an instance of a P600 and is suggested to reflect the structural change of the initially constructed compound structure. The results suggest that lexical-semantic integration of compound constituents is an incremental process and, thus, challenge a recent proposal on the time-course of semantic processing in auditory compound comprehension.

from Neuropsychology

Electrophysiological evidence for incremental lexical-semantic integration in auditory compound comprehension

Abstract
The present study investigated the time-course of semantic integration in auditory compound word processing. Compounding is a productive mechanism of word formation that is used frequently in many languages. Specifically, we examined whether semantic integration is incremental or is delayed until the head, the last constituent in German, is available. Stimuli were compounds consisting of three nouns, and the semantic plausibility of the second and the third constituent was manipulated independently (high vs. low). Participants’ task was to listen to the compounds and evaluate them semantically. Event-related brain potentials in response to the head constituents showed an increased N400 for less plausible head constituents, reflecting the lexical-semantic integration of all three compound constituents. In response to the second (less plausible) constituents, an increased N400 with a central-left scalp distribution was observed followed by a parietal positivity. The occurrence of this N400 effect during the presentation of the second constituents suggests that the initial two non-head constituents are immediately integrated. The subsequent positivity might be an instance of a P600 and is suggested to reflect the structural change of the initially constructed compound structure. The results suggest that lexical-semantic integration of compound constituents is an incremental process and, thus, challenge a recent proposal on the time-course of semantic processing in auditory compound comprehension.

from Neuropsychology

Using lexical familiarity judgments to assess verbally mediated intelligence in aphasia

In this study, a task using forced-choice lexical familiarity judgments of irregular versus archaic words (a newly developed measure called the Lexical Orthographic Familiarity Test; LOFT) was compared to a standardized oral word-reading measure (the Wechsler Test of Adult Reading; WTAR) in a group of 35 aphasic adults and a comparison group of 125 community dwelling, nonbrain damaged adults. When compared to the comparison group, aphasics had significantly lower scores on the WTAR but not the LOFT. Although both the WTAR and LOFT were significantly correlated with education in the nonbrain-damaged group, only the LOFT was correlated with education and also with the Barona full scale IQ index in the aphasic group. Lastly, WTAR performance showed a significantly greater relationship to the severity of language disorder in the aphasic group than did the LOFT. These results have both theoretical and clinical implications for the assessment of language-disordered adults, as they indicate that patients with aphasia may retain aspects of verbally mediated intelligence, and that the LOFT may provide a better estimate of premorbid functioning in aphasia than other currently available measures. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved)

from Neuropsychology