Psycholinguistics I/II - 2020-2021

LING 640/641


This course is a year-long foundation course sequence in psycholinguistics, aimed at graduate students from any language science field. The course assumes no specific background in psycholinguistics, including experimentation or statistics. The first semester course also requires only limited background in formal linguistics. But all students should have a serious commitment to some area of language science, and relevant expertise that they can contribute to the class group. Psycholinguistics is a broad field. In principle, it includes all areas of the mentalistic study of language, including the various fields of so-called formal/theoretical linguistics, plus language acquisition and the neuroscience of language. And while we’re at it, why not throw in language disorders and second language acquisition for good measure! Due to this breadth, psycholinguistics can sometimes appear like a scientific archipelago – many interesting but disconnected islands. We will make no attempt to tour all of these islands in this course. Instead, we will focus on trying to understand the overall space, how the pieces fit together, and recurring themes and problems. The course will focus on:U

  • Understanding the landscape of psycholinguistics
  • Psycholinguistic thinking: finding good questions, evaluating evidence, resolving conflicts
  • Doing psycholinguistics: tools needed to carry out psycholinguistic research

In the Fall semester (LING 640) we will devote a lot of time to ‘model’ problems, such as speech categorization and word recognition, because these relatively simple cases allow us to probe deeply into psycholinguistic issues with limited linguistic overhead. 

In the Spring semester (LING 641) we will devote more attention to the relation between the syntax and semantics of sentences and language learning and language processing. 


This is going to be an academic year like no other that we have known. The world is facing a global pandemic. There is an international economic crisis, with effects that reach most parts of society, including colleges and college towns. The US is facing extreme societal unrest. Many students are unable to come to campus. Many are unable to even enter the United States.

We have to adapt and be flexible in times like these.

We need to also keep an eye on sustainability. Whatever ‘normal’ will be in the future, we won’t be there for a while.


In other times we would be sitting around a big table and discussing. After class, we might continue discussing over lunch. This year we are separated by 13 time zones. We are split across the College Park area, Europe, and China.  

Being so far apart will surely create challenges. Don’t be shy about mentioning them.


The COVID-19 pandemic will likely be around us for a long while yet. Clearly, the health of yourself and those around you is of paramount importance.

Remember that mental health is an important element of good health, especially for graduate students. Be aware, and seek help if needed.


A research university thrives on connectivity. We have less of that now.

We see fewer people. We will have fewer spontaneous encounters. We will have fewer shared experiences. So we need to take extra steps to be connected.

Electronic connectivity could present additional challenges. Some may encounter difficulties accessing electronic resources. 

Individual and in person meetings

Individual and small group conversations are especially valuable right now. Seek them out!

I am very happy to have individual discussions. Just drop me a line. I can often adjust to your time zone constraints.

I welcome opportunities for in person meetings, for those who are local. I had many outdoor meetings on campus in the fall and plan to continue in the winter/spring. The UMD campus is beautiful year round, and it is good for graduate students and faculty to be visibly active on campus.







Schedule – Spring

Mondays & Wednesdays, 12:00 – 1:30 US Eastern (time changes on March 14th). Online. URL shared with students

January 25th: Introduction

January 27th: Case study, syntactic priming

February 1st: Case study on learning and processing: syntactic islands

February 3rd: Case study on learning and processing: syntactic islands

February 8th: Case study on learning and processing: syntactic islands

February 10th: …

February 15th: …

February 17th: …

February 22nd: …

February 24th: …

March 1st: …

March 8th: …

March 10th: …

March 15th: SPRING BREAK

March 17th: SPRING BREAK

March 22nd: …

March 24th: …

March 29th: …

March 31st: …

April 5th: …

April 7th: …

April 12th: …

April 14th: …

April 19th: …

April 21st: …

April 26th: …

April 28th: …

May 3rd: …

May 5th: …

May 10th: …

Schedule – Fall

Mondays & Wednesdays, 12:00 – 1:30. Mostly online, URL shared with students.

August 31: Introduction. The psycholinguistic landscape

September 2: Some core concepts

September 7: NO CLASS – Labor Day Holiday

September 9: Development of Speech Perception

September 14:  Becoming a native listener

September 16: Distributional learning

September 21: Learning contrasts

September 23:

September 28: 

September 30: Neuroscience of speech perception and production

October 5: Word recognition

October 7: Active processing

October 12: Recognizing words in context

October 14:

October 19: Neuroscience of word recognition

October 21:

October 26: Word production

October 28:

NOVEMBER 1 – Daylight Savings Time ends

November 2:

November 4:

November 9:

November 11:

November 16:

November 18:

November 23:


November 30:

December 2:

December 7:

December 9:




This is graduate school. Your grade should not be your top concern here. You should be aiming to get a top grade, but your focus should be on using the course to develop the skills that will serve you well in your research. There will be no exams for this course. The focus of the course is on reading, discussing, writing and doing throughout the semester, and hence your entire grade will be based upon this. If you want to get the maximum benefit from this class (i.e. learn lots and have a grade to show for it at the end), you will do the following …

1. Come to class prepared, and participate (40% of grade).

Being prepared means having done some reading and thinking before coming to class. Writing down your initial thoughts or questions about the article(s) is likely to help. Although many readings are listed for this course, you are not expected to read them all from beginning to end. An important skill to develop is the ability to efficiently extract ideas and information from writing. Particpating in class discussions is valuable because it makes you an active learner and greatly increases the likelihood that you will understand and retain the material. You should also feel free to contact me outside of class with questions that you have about the material.

2. Think carefully and write clearly in assignments (60% of grade).

The assignments will come in a variety of formats. In lab assignments you will get hands-on experience with various research techniques in psycholinguistics, plus experience in reporting the results of those experiments. In writing assignments you will think and write about issues raised in class and in the assigned readings. The writing assignment may sometimes be due before the material is discussed in class: this will help you to be better prepared for class and to form your own opinions in advance of class discussion. In your writing it is important to write clearly and provide support for claims that you make.

f you are worried about how you are doing in the course, do not hesitate to contact me. Email is generally the most reliable way of reaching me.

Grade scale

 A 80-100%  B- 60-65%
 A- 75-80%  C+ 55-60%
 B+ 70-75%  C 50-55%
 B 65-70%  C- 45-50%

Note that even in the A range there is plenty of room for you to show extra initiative and insight. The threshold for A is deliberately set low, so that you have an opportunity to get additional credit for more creative work.


Written work should be submitted individually, unless the assignment guidelines state otherwise or you have made prior arrangements with the instructor, but you are strongly encouraged to work together on labs and homeworks in addition to group projects. Academic honesty includes giving appropriate credit to collaborators.  Although collaboration is encouraged, collaboration should not be confused with writing up the results of a classmate’s work – this is unacceptable. If you work as a part of a group, you should indicate this at the top of your assignment when you submit it.  


The assignments for the course consist of a mix of shorter and longer written assignments, together with practical lab assignments.

The lab assignments are an important component of the course, and they are designed to give you first-hand experience with experimental and computational techniques used in psycholinguistic research. Typically you will have around 2 weeks for each lab assignment. 

Discussion note [8/31/20]: Marr’s (1982) discussion of visual perception highlights the “goal” of the computation. Does linguistic computation have a “goal”? Does Marr’s view on levels of analysis align with Chomsky’s contrasting of competence and performance? [See especially Marr, pp. 20-28, Chomsky pp. 3-15.]

Note that these classic distinctions from Chomsky and Marr are by no means the last word on these issues. Some argue that the distinctions are unnecessary, others argue for additional distinctions. In thinking about these issues, you may find it useful to apply the contrasts highlighted in class: (i) levels of analysis, (ii) tasks, (iii) mechanisms.


Lab #1A: Classic speech perception paradigms (due September 16th)


Lab #1B: Probing higher level encoding of speech (due September 28th)


Lab 2Lexical Decision (due December 2nd)

Discussion note [1/25/21]: Branigan & Pickering 2017 (“An experimental approach to linguistic representation”; see Readings) argues for the value of syntactic priming as a tool for understanding language structure. Take a look at this paper — you are not expected to read it all from start to finish. At least think about each of these questions. Please send an email ahead of our meeting on Wednesday that addresses at least one of the questions. (1) The finding by Bock & Loebell (1990) about priming and by-phrases (see Section 2.1, p. 8) is among the most influential in this literature. Why so? Is this fame justified? (2) What do B&P mean by “The reality of linguistic representation” (p. 3)? (3) What is the role of the evidence from missing (“elided”) elements in Mandarin (p. 10)?

Discussion note [2/1/21]: Pearl & Sprouse 2013 (“Syntactic islands and learning biases …”; see Readings) argues that syntactic island constraints can be directly learned from the sentences that children hear in their input. Take a look at this paper. At least think about each of these questions. Please send an email ahead of our meeting on Wednesday that addresses at least one of the questions. (1) Why is it a big deal for P&S to show learning of island constraints from the input? Does their approach show that innate constraints are not needed to learn these constraints? (2) Appendix B of P&S is very interesting, as it shows what is in the input to children. Most wh-questions that children hear are simple. So how does P&S’s model learn to treat different types of complex questions differently, i.e., acceptable long-distance wh-questions vs. island constraint violations? (3) Languages vary. This includes variation in island constraints. How would P&S’s learner fare with Italian or Mandarin? Italian has been claimed to lack wh-island effects, i.e., some kinds of questions that are unacceptable in English are ok in Italian. On the other hand, Mandarin generally lacks wh-movement. It is a so-called “wh-in-situ” language. For example, the Mandarin equivalent of English “What did Joe say?” is “Joe said what?”    

Discussion note 3 [2/8/21]: For our next discussion, we remain on the topic of island constraints, but shift attention to adult experimental studies. For this we will focus on 3 papers from the journal Language. For this you do not need to read all three, but you should try to figure out what is going on in at least two of them. The papers can be found in the Readings tab on this page. Please send a short discussion note that addresses two of the following questions. (i) Sprouse et al. (2012) aim to address a debate about why speakers perceive island constraint violations as unacceptable. Specifically they test a “reductionist” account of island effects. They claim that the “difference between differences (DD)” score is a key measure, rather than raw acceptability judgments. Why do they believe that this is the relevant measure? (ii) Phillips (2006, English) and Keshev & Meltzer-Asscher (2017, Hebrew) both test the time course of island effects in comprehension. Both studies show rapid effects of island constraints on online comprehension. For one or both of these studies, do the results bear on the the “reductionism” question tackled by Sprouse et al. (2012)? (iii) If island effects can be reduced to constraints on language processing, how might we explain cross-language variation in wh-movement and island effects, such as between English, Italian, and Mandarin?

Discussion note 4 [2/15/21]: This Wednesday we will zoom out from our case study of island effects to discuss the relation between linguistics and psycholinguistics (in the traditional uses of the labels). We’ll summarize a historical perspective, but will also look at more recent findings about some classic test cases: sentences that are incoherent but that are perceived as better than they should be. Lewis & Phillips (2015) ask whether people who study “things that happen quickly”, i.e., often psycholinguists and people who study “things that sometimes take a while”, i.e., (traditional) linguists are studying the same cognitive mechanism. They contrast “one system” and “two system” views. Two of the phenomena that they briefly discuss are explored in much more detail in recent studies using fairly simple experiments. Wellwood et al. 2018 discuss “comparative illusions”. Huang & Phillips 2021 discuss “missing VP illusions in Mandarin. For one of the two papers, try to answer the following: (i) Why are the key sentences perceived as ok, despite the fact that they are not ok? If the authors’ account fails to satisfactorily answer this question, feel free to say so. (ii) Do the mismatches between initial perception and more considered judgment decide among the one system and two system accounts? 

Discussion Note 5 [2/19/21]: For this discussion we turn our attention back to language learning, though questions of language processing are never too far away. Two studies of children’s knowledge of scope constraints preesent an interesting contrast. Using evidence from Japanese and English Goro (2007) shows that Japanese children start with English-like scope interpretations, but later converge on correct adult Japanese scope interpretations. This is an example of learning that takes time, but is ultimately successful. On the other hand, Han et al. (2016) explore a different kind of scope constraint in Korean, and they find that it appears to not successfully transmit from one generation to the next. (i) These seem like obscure properties of the languages. Why should we care about them? (ii) Explain in somewhat accessible terms (understandable to more than professional semanticists) the scope contrasts in the two languages. (iii) What are some situations  that could, at least in principle, show a learner which scope possibilities are available in their language? (iv) In light of the answer to (iii), does it seem plausible that the evidence is sufficiently clear for Japanese children but not sufficiently clear for Korean children? NOTE: you do not need to read all of Goro’s dissertation. The key sections for us are the general framing in Chapter 1 (Introduction), and the first experiment in Chapter 2 (pp. 18-38, 54-58). It’s a very interesting dissertation overall, so feel free to read further, but this is not expected of you!


Discussion Note 6 [3/8/21]: This is a precursor to an experimental design project. As a starting point, please take a look at the experiment design used by DeVilliers and Roeper (1995) to test preschoolers’ knowledge of island constraints. The use a “picture after story” task to test what interpretations children adopt for questions like, “How did the boy drink who sneezed?” What is at issue here is whether the wh-word “how” is associated with the main clause verb “drink” or with the verb inside the relative clause “sneeze”. How does DeVilliers & Roeper’s Experiment 1 create the conditions to test these interpretations? How persuasive do you find their findings? Please write up brief discussion notes ahead of our meeting on Wednesday March 10th. We can then build on this in a subsequent experiment design project. Please think in particular about the chain of reasoning that links (i) the answers that children give to the questions that are asked, and (ii) the conclusions that are drawn about what interpretations the child’s grammar allows.


 Lab (Design) Assignment [3/29/21]: This is a follow-up from Discussion Note 6. Please send write-ups by Friday April 9th.

In this lab you will design materials for an experiment on child sentence comprehension. The goal is to try to construct a fair test of preschool-age children’s knowledge of constraints on question formation. The rationale for this is: (i) it serves as a model for a wide range of possible tests of adult and child learner’s linguistic abilities — the experiment design considerations that are relevant here are relevant to many other studies that you might construct; (ii) there may be good reasons to doubt the conclusions that have been drawn from previous studies on this topic, so if we can find a better design, then we can try to actually run the experiment.
English, like many other languages, allows wh-questions in which the wh-phrase and the verb that it is interpreted with are separated by one or more clauses. This is shown in (1-2) for questions involving adjunct/modifier wh-words like howwhen, or where.
1. How did John hurt his leg __?

2a. How did Mary hear that John hurt his leg __?
b. When did Bill say that Susie will arrive __?
c. Where did Emily tell somebody that she found the book __?

But there are restrictions on these long-distance questions. In particular, it is impossible in English (and in the vast majority of other languages) to form a direct wh-question in which the questioned phrase is associated with a verb/gap inside a relative clause. (3a) can be understood as a question about the location of the main clause event (‘talk to’) but not as a question about the location of the relative clause event (‘swim’). (3b) can be understood as a question about the location of the main clause event (‘drink the milk’) but not as a question about the location of the relative clause event (‘sneeze’). For this reason relative clauses are known as ‘islands’ for question formation, i.e., the wh-word cannot escape from the relative clause.

3a. *Where did Emily talk to [the girl that likes to swim __]
b. *How did [the boy that sneezed __] drink the milk?

De Villiers & Roeper (1995) argued, using a ‘Question after Story’ task and sentences like (3b) that preschool-age children systematically avoid interpretations of questions that would amount to extractions from a relative clause, i.e., they answer questions like (3b) as if they are questions about the manner of milk drinking. They argue that this avoidance is caused by children’s knowledge of a grammatical island constraint. However, as we have discussed in class, the design of the task could instead have caused the children to avoid the relative clause construal of the question because that question was not suitably licensed by the story context. This is what we hope to fix in this lab.

Your task: propose a design for a study that could provide a fair test of whether preschool-age children allow or disallow interpretations of wh-questions that involve extraction from a relative clause.

In order to do this, you will need to do the following:

(i) For one or more sample sentences, give a list of the circumstances that would need to hold in order for it to be natural to ask a question about the main clause event in a sentence that contains a relative clause.

(ii) For the same sample sentence(s), give a list of the circumstances that would need to hold in order for it to be natural to ask a question about the relative clause event.

(iii) In light of your answers to (i-ii), explain which of your requirements the de Villiers & Roeper (1995) sample story does and does not satisfy.

(iv) Next try to combine your conditions from (i) and (ii) to give a list of requirements that must be met in a scenario that simultaneously licenses a main clause and relative clause question. Can this set of requirements be satisfied in a single scenario, or do they contain contradictory requirements? Clearly explaining your reasoning is particularly important on this point.

(v) Now use your conclusions from (i-iv) to design a new study that tests whether children can interpret wh-questions as involving extraction from a relative clause. Provide sample materials for at least one sample story for each experimental condition (text is fine, no need for pictures or movies!) What experimental conditions would you want to include as controls? For example, is there a way of testing whether the island-violating meaning is suitably prominent/accessible in your context, independent of the island constraint? 

Using other studies as a guide, provide information on how many items you would want. Would you include filler trials – if so, why? Would you want to use a within-subjects design (all children see all conditions) or a between-subjects design (different groups of children tested in the different conditions)? Why? 


Some important notes:

a. There is no preconceived notion of what you will conclude in this lab. This is new research. As usual, we encourage you to work together on this; just write up your work yourself. 

b. Please do not just come up with a story and “see if it works”. It is really important to approach this task systematically, first focusing on the requirements that suitable stories must meet, and then trying to build a real story around those requirements. Similarly, in your write-up, do not just give a sample story without explanation. It would be much better if you could give an annotated story, which explains how the various story elements satisfy your requirements. For example, present the story in a two-column format, in which one column contains the story elements, and the second contains notes on what those elements achieve.

c. The specific choice of lexical items and wh-words is up to you. You are certainly not tied to using the wh-word how as de Villiers and Roeper (1995) did, nor are you tied to using predicates like ‘sneeze’ or ‘drink the milk’. Use whatever you think will make it easier to construct suitable narratives.

d. For purposes of this lab exercise, you can first assume that children are in unlimited supply, and that their attention span is infinite. But it may be worthwhile to address the question of whether your design is feasible given children’s attention span. It is rare for tasks of this kind to last for more than around 15-20 minutes.

 e. The issue of when it is natural to ask a question about a relative clause may be particularly tricky. If you have thoughts on this we can discuss in class or in our Slack group.

f. The Question-after-Story (QaS) task that de Villiers and Roeper used has a different name than the Truth Value Judgment Task (TVJT) that is used in many other studies with preschool-age children, but the two tasks follow essentially the same logic. In the QaS task we are interested in which question interpretation a child chooses to answer, and we use that to try to draw inferences about the child’s grammar of questions. In the TVJT we are interested in which interpretation of a declarative statement a child chooses to judge as true or false, and we use that to try to draw inferences about the child’s grammar of declaratives. Therefore, we should be mindful of the same design considerations that go into a TVJT when designing a QaS task. For ideas on this see Conroy et al. (2009) and Crain & Thornton (1998) [ch 25, ch 26, ch 27 – LINKS TO BE UPDATED] on pronoun interpretation, and Lidz & Musolino (2006) on quantifier scope interpretation.


Discussion Note 7 [3/29/21]: Real-time interpretation of pronouns is a useful ‘model system’ for understanding how interpretations are accessed and evaluated rapidly as we understand sentences. That’s because interpreting a pronoun involves, roughly, accessing a suitable antecedent. Using time-sensitive measures, we can sometimes see that adults temporarily consider interpretations that they quickly reject. There are a few different methods for doing so, and it can be useful to compare their logic. For this discussion note, please look at at least one of the following three studies: (1) Sturt (2003), (2) Kaiser, Runner, Sussman, & Tanenhaus (2009), (3) Giskes & Kush (2021). For the study that you look at address the following questions; (i) What is the hypothesis about moment-by-moment interpretation that the experimenter(s) are testing? Is it more about real-time use of grammatical constraints, or is it more about mechanisms for constructing interpretations? (ii) What is the logic for how the experimental measure is used to identify which interpretations are considered when? (iii) Do you find anything surprising in the evidence, e.g., in how fast or slow comprehenders process incoming material?

Paper notes (all accessible via course readings list). (1) Sturt (2003) is a classic study that uses an eye-tracking while reading method to assess online effects of the locality condition on antecedents for reflexives like himself. The framing of the paper is guided by some complexities in the results of the first eye-tracking experiment, but the second experiment has especially clear results. (2) Kaiser et al. (2009) uses a visual world eye-tracking paradigm to test the interpretation of reflexives in “picture noun phrases”, which present interesting challenges for syntacticians. This paper is included because of its relevance to those taking Masha Polinsky’s syntax course currently. (3) Giskes & Kush (2021) is a very new study that caught my attention at the recent CUNY Sentence Processing Conference. It presents evidence from Dutch that challenges some of the conclusions from the Kazanina et al. (2007) study that we discussed at the end of class on Monday 3/29/21. The paper is not yet written up, to my knowledge, so available materials are a 5-minute video and an abstract.





These are links to the slides used in the course. But note that they include some things that were not discussed in class, and in many cases the slides do not do justice to our extensive discussions in class.

#1: Introduction

#2: Development of speech perception

#3: Electrophysiology of speech perception




 This list will be updated over the course of the year.

Overview: Putting Pieces Together

This series of articles lays out the current thinking of myself and colleagues on the relation between traditional linguistic theories and theories in psycholinguistics.

Lewis, S. & Phillips, C. (2015). Aligning grammatical theories and language processing models. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 44, 27-46.

Momma, S. & Phillips, C. (2018). The relationship between parsing and generation. Annual Review of Linguistics, 4, 233-254.

Phillips, C., Gaston, P., Huang, N., & Muller, H. (2020). Theories all the way down: remarks on “theoretical” and “experimental” linguistics. In press: G. Goodall, ed., Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Syntax.

A Case Study on Syntactic Priming

Branigan, H. & Pickering, M. (2017). An experimental approach to linguistic representation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40, e282.

A Case Study on Syntactic Islands

Island constraints have motivated claims about rich language-specific content in Universal Grammar, in order to capture the finding that humans converge on detailed structural constraints despite limited experience. These articles address challenges to this view from the perspective of learning (maybe learners’ experience is richer than we thought) and from language processing (maybe island effects are simply effects of processing resource limitations).

Pearl, L. & Sprouse, J. (2013). Syntactic islands and learning biases: Combining experimental syntax and computational modeling to investigate the language acquisition problem. Language Acquisition, 20, 23-68.

Sprouse, J., Wagers, M., & Phillips, C. (2012). A test of the relation between working memory capacity and syntactic island effects. Language, 88, 82-123.

Phillips, C. (2006). The real-time status of island phenomena. Language, 82, 795-823.

Keshev, M. & Meltzer-Asscher, A. (2017). Active dependency formation in islands: How grammatical resumption affects sentence processing. Language, 93, 549-568.

Phillips, C. (2013). On the nature of island constraints I: Language processing and reductionist accounts. In J. Sprouse & N. Hornstein, eds., Experimental Syntax and Island Effects, pp. 64-108. Cambridge University Press. [This piece reviews different arguments in the debate over whether island effects can be explained by resource limitations.]

Phillips, C. (2013). On the nature of island constraints II: Language learning and innateness. In J. Sprouse & N. Hornstein, eds., Experimental Syntax and Island Effects, pp. 132-157. Cambridge University Press. [Critical review of the proposal in Pearl & Sprouse 2013.]

Two Illusions

Wellwood, A., Pancheva, R., Hacquard, V., & Phillips, C. (2018). The anatomy of a comparative illusion. Journal of Semantics, 35, 543-583. [downloadable manuscript from my papers page]

Huang, N. & Phillips, C. (2021). When missing NPs make double center-embedded sentences acceptable. In press, Glossa.

Learning Scope Constraints

Goro, T. (2007). Language specific constraints on scope interpretation in first language acquisition. PhD dissertation, University of Maryland.

Han, C, Musolino, J., & Lidz, J. (2016). Endogenous sources of variation in language acquisition. Proceedings of the National Academies of Science. 113, 942-947.

Children’s Interpretations

De Villiers, J. & Roeper, T. (1995). Relative clauses are barriers to wh-movement for young children. Journal of Child Language 22, 389-404.

Online Pronoun Interpretation

Sturt, P. (2003). The time course of the application of binding constraints in reference resolution. Journal of Memory and Language, 48, 542-562.

Kaiser, E., Runner, J., Susskind, R., & Tanenhaus, M. (2009). Structural and semantic constraints on the resolution of pronouns and reflexives. Cognition, 112, 55-80.

Giskes, A., & Kush, D. (2021). What to expect when you are expecting an antecedent: processing cataphora in Dutch. Presentation at the 2021 CUNY Sentence Processing Conference, University of Pennsylvania (virtual). Abstract. Video link – starts at the 5-minute mark in Session 8. Note the password in the schedule that you can copy to access the video when prompted.


Introduction (Fall)

Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of the theory of syntax. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [chapter 1]

Marr, D. (1982). Vision. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [excerpt]

Bowers, J. & Davis, C. (2012). Bayesian just-so stories in psychology and neurosciencePsychological Bulletin, 138, 389-414.

Griffiths, T., Chater, N., Norris, D., & Pouget, A. (2012). How the Bayesians got their beliefs (and what those beliefs actually are): Comment on Bowers and Davis (2012)Psychological Bulletin, 138, 415-422.

Bowers, J. & Davis, C. (2012). Is that what Bayesians believe? Reply to Griffiths et al. (2012)Psychological Bulletin, 138, 423-426.

Jackendoff, R. (2002). Foundations of language. Oxford University Press. [chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4]

Lewis, S. & Phillips, C. (2015). Aligning grammatical theories and language processing modelsJournal of Psycholinguistic Research, 44, 27-46.

Momma, S. & Phillips, C. (2018). The relationship between parsing and generation. Annual Review of Linguistics, 4, 233-254

Speech Perception, Learning Sound Categories

 Stager, C. & Werker, J. (1997). Infants listen for more phonetic detail in speech perception than word learning tasksNature, 388, 381-382. [This is one of the primary readings for the section of the course on phonetic/phonological representations. A very short, but very important study. Why are younger infants better than older infants, even on native-language contrasts?]

Vallabha, G. K., McClelland, J. L., Pons, F., Werker, J. F., & Amano, S. (2007). Unsupervised learning of vowel categories from infant-directed speechProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 13273-13278. [This is an explicit implementation of the idea that is implicit in the papers by Maye et al. 2002 and Werker et al. 2007.]

Werker, J. (1994). Cross-language speech perception: Developmental change does not involve loss. In: Goodman & Nusbaum (eds.), The Development of Speech Perception. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp:93-120. [Useful for Lab 1. This paper reviews in more details the reasons why Werker adopts a structure-adding view of phonetic development.]

Werker, J. (1995). Exploring developmental changes in cross-language speech perception. In L. Gleitman & M. Liberman (eds) Language: An Invitation to Cognitive Science, Vol 1 (2nd edn.), 87-106. [This paper is the best starting point for this section of the course. It presents an overview of Werker’s views on phonetic development up to 1995, including a straightforward study of her important cross-language experiments from the early 1980s.]

Werker, J. F., Pons, F., Dietrich, C., Kajikawa, S., Fais, L., & Amano, S. (2007). Infant-directed speech supports phonetic category learning in English and JapaneseCognition, 103, 147-162. [Analysis of what infants actually hear. It is presented as an argument for unsupervised distributional learning, but I suspect that it shows the opposite.]


Cognitive Neuroscience of Speech Perception

Näätänen et al. 1997. Language-specific phoneme representations revealed by electric and magnetic brain responsesNature, 385, 432-434.

Kazanina, N., Phillips, C., & Idsardi, W. 2006. The influence of meaning on the perception of speech soundsProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103, 11381-11386.

van Turennout, M., Hagoort, P., & Brown, C. 1998. Brain activity during speaking: from syntax to phonology in 40 millisecondsScience, 280, 572-574.

Word Recognition

An accessible introduction to some foundational concepts and findings:

Altmann, G. 1997. Words and how we (eventually) find them. Chapter 6 of The Ascent of Babel. Oxford University Press. [A good introductory chapter.]

Some recommended readings for class discussion.

Magnuson, J., Mirman, D., & Myers, E. 2013. Spoken word recognition. In D. Reisberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Psychology, p. 412-441. Oxford University Press.

Gaston, P., Lau, E., & Phillips, C. 2020. How does(n’t) syntactic context guide auditory word recognition. Submitted.

Lau, E., Phillips, C., & Poeppel, D. 2008. A cortical network for semantics: (de)constructing the N400. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9, 920-933.

Some seminal papers discussed in class.

Marslen-Wilson, W. 1975. Sentence perception as an interactive parallel processScience, 189, 226-228 

Marslen-Wilson, W. 1987. Functional parallelism in spoken word recognitionCognition, 25, 71-102.

Boland, J. and Cutler, A. 1996. Interaction with autonomy: Multiple output models and the inadequacy of the Great DivideCognition, 58-309-320.

Dahan, D., Magnuson, J., & Tanenhaus, M. 2001. Time course of frequency effects in spoken word recognition: Evidence from eye-movementsCognitive Psychology, 42, 317-367.

Chen, L. & Boland, J. 2008. Dominance and context effects on activation of alternative homophone meaningsMemory and Cognition, 36, 1306-1323.

Kutas, M. & Federmeier, K. 2000. Electrophysiology reveals semantic memory use in language comprehension. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4, 463-470