A time course analysis of enriched composition

Brian McElree, Liina Pylkkänen, Martin J. Pickering, Matthew J. Traxler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Linguistic analyses suggest that common and seemingly simple expressions, such as began the book, cannot be interpreted with simple compositional processes; rather, they require enriched composition to provide an interpretation, such as began reading the book (Jackendoff, 1997; Pustejovsky, 1995). Recent reading time studies have supported these accounts by providing evidence that these expressions are more costly to process than are minimally contrasting controls (e.g., McElree, Traxler, Pickering, Seely, & Jackendoff, 2001). We report a response signal speed-accuracy trade-off (SAT) study in which two types of expressions that are thought to require enriched composition were examined. Analyses of the full time course SAT data indicate that these expressions were interpreted less accurately and, most importantly, more slowly than control sentences. The latter finding suggests that enriched composition requires the online deployment of complex compositional operations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-59
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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