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Anthony C. Woodbury, Chair CLA 4.304, Mailcode B5100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-1701

Colloquium - Nicole Wicha (UTSA) "Predicting and integrating words in a sentence context"

Mon, April 9, 2012 • 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM • UTC 3.134

We comprehend utterances at the breakneck speed of about 3 words per second.  It has been proposed that in order to keep up this pace the brain must actively anticipate words at each step.  This strategy would allow us to process words more quickly when predictions are correct, but could potentially cause significant processing delays when they are not.  I will discuss a series of experiments that provide direct evidence that people do indeed make predictions in a sentence context, with enough precision to include the grammatical gender of an upcoming word.  This is true for both monolinguals and bilinguals.  These predictions are fine-tuned based on the context in which the prediction is made, e.g. monolingual or bilingual sentences, and the form of the anticipated stimulus.  I will also discuss the interaction between semantics and morphosyntactic information during integration of a predicted noun in a sentence context.  In brief, our brain appears to engage dynamic predictive and interactive processes during sentence comprehension.


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