A Look around at What Lies Ahead: Prediction and Predictability in Language Processing

Marta Kutas, Katherine A. DeLong and Nathaniel J. Smith

in Predictions in the Brain

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780195395518
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897230 | DOI:
A Look around at What Lies Ahead: Prediction and Predictability in Language Processing

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This chapter examines linguistic prediction from multiple perspectives, ranging from theoretical models that analyze predictability at the level of ambiguity resolution, to experimental evidence primarily from event-related brain potentials (ERPs) that supports a “strong” model of prediction in which items are not just incrementally integrated, but are wholly or featurally pre-activated via accruing mental sentential representations. It also explores possible consequences of a neural language parser (aka, brain) that may be prone to mispredicting, and what electrophysiological evidence for such processing may look like. The chapter concludes by arguing for the importance of investigating such linguistic effects as yet another example of a neural system in which probability estimation is inherent. It proposes moving beyond the debate of whether there is linguistic prediction, toward focusing research efforts on how pre-activation may occur and what is pre-activated.

Keywords: linguistic prediction; event-related potentials; brain; mental sentential representations

Chapter.  11605 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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