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Maintenance cost in the processing of subject–verb dependencies

Ristic, B; Mancini, S; Molinaro, N; Staub, A; (2021) Maintenance cost in the processing of subject–verb dependencies. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 10.1037/xlm0000863. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Although research in sentence comprehension has suggested that processing long-distance dependencies involves maintenance between the elements that form the dependency, studies on maintenance of long-distance subject–verb (SV) dependencies are scarce. The few relevant studies have delivered mixed results using self-paced reading or phoneme-monitoring tasks. In the current study, we used eye tracking during reading to test whether maintaining a long-distance SV dependency results in a processing cost on an intervening adverbial clause. In Experiment 1, we studied this question in Spanish and found that both go-past reading times and regressions out of an adverbial clause to the previous regions were significantly increased when the clause interrupts a SV dependency compared to when the same clause doesn’t interrupt this dependency. We then replicated these findings in English (Experiment 2), observing significantly increased go-past reading times on a clause interrupting a SV dependency. The current study provides the first eye-tracking data showing a maintenance cost in the processing of SV dependencies cross-linguistically. Sentence comprehension models should account for the maintenance cost generated by SV dependency processing, and future research should focus on the nature of the maintained representation.

Type: Article
Title: Maintenance cost in the processing of subject–verb dependencies
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/xlm0000863
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000863
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Linguistics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10124753
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