The locus of lexical preference effects in sentence comprehension: A time-course analysis

Brian McElree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The retrieval and use of syntactic information associated with verbs during on-line comprehension was examined with reaction time (Experiment 1) and speed-accuracy tradeoff (Experiment 2) variants of a grammaticality judgment task. In three different syntactic environments, the preferred (most frequent) syntactic frame associated with a verb facilitated sentence processing relative to less-preferred (more infrequent) frames. Speed-accuracy tradeoff measures were used to explicitly examine whether the preferred frame associated with the verb has a higher probability of retrieval from the mental lexicon or whether it induces a serial parsing strategy. SAT analysis indicated that (i) in most contexts, less-preferred frames have a lower probability of retrieval, and (ii) verb preference does not induce a serial parsing strategy in the processing of lexically realized arguments, but may induce a serial assignment of possible filler-gap relations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-571
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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