Memory for linguistic features and the focus of attention: evidence from the dynamics of agreement inside DP

Matthew Wagers, Brian McElree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The amount of information that can be concurrently maintained in the focus of attention is strongly restricted. The goal of this study was to test whether this restriction was functionally significant for language comprehension. We examined the time-course dynamics of processing determiner-head agreement in English demonstrative phrases. We found evidence that agreement processing was slowed when determiner and head were no longer adjacent, but separated by modifiers. We argue that some information is shunted nearly immediately from the focus of attention, necessitating its later retrieval. Plural, the marked feature value for number, exhibits better preservation in the focus of attention, however, than the unmarked value, singular.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • focus of attention
  • grammatical agreement
  • Language comprehension
  • number
  • speed–accuracy trade-off (SAT)
  • working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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