Tourtouri, Elli; Delogu, Francesca; Crocker, Matthew W.

ERP Indices of situated reference in visual contexts

37th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Austin, Texas, USA, 2015.

Violations of the maxims of Quantity occur when utterances provide more (over-specified) or less (under-specified) information than strictly required for referent identification. While behavioural data suggest that under-specified expressions lead to comprehension difficulty and communicative failure, there is no consensus as to whether over-specified expressions are also detrimental to comprehension. In this study we shed light on this debate, providing neurophysiological evidence supporting the view that extra information facilitates comprehension. We further present novel evidence that referential failure due to underspecification is qualitatively different from explicit cases of referential failure, when no matching referential candidate is available in the context.