The Role of Language Experience and Surprisal for Learning and Memory

Project A5

In the second phase of the CRC, we examined the role of language experience on predictive language processing, in particular (a) how prediction during language comprehension interacts with complex visual scenes in childhood, and how predictive processing influences the remembering and learning of new words (b) in middle childhood and (c) in younger and older adults.
In order to capitalize on these findings, we will continue to assess the role of language experience on predictive language processing and its influence on word learning and memory processes. In relation to the overarching theme for phase III information in flux, we will investigate (in WP 1) how varying working-memory demands during language comprehension, in addition to surprisal, influence fast learning of novel word meanings (implicit memory processes) as well as retrieving previously encountered content from memory (explicit memory processes). In WP 2, we focus on the interaction between plausibility and surprisal during online language comprehension and their joint impact on subsequent memory retrieval. In particular, we will investigate false memories for predictable but not encountered words, and how false memories are cognitively represented. In nearly all WPs, we will adopt a lifespan approach by comparing children, a well as younger and older adults to determine the impact of individual differences in language experience and working-memory capacity on surprisal. Whereas children and younger and older adults with respect to language experience, children and older adults differ from younger adults in their working-memory capacity. This approach will help us test whether traditional models of surprisal or more recent ones (in particular, the assumption of lossy memory representation) are better in accounting for empirical data.

Keywords: psycholinguistics