Explaining individual variation in referential choices through cognitive modeling - Speaker: Petra Hendriks

Explaining individual variation in referential choices through cognitive modeling

Petra Hendriks

University of Groningen

A challenge for many accounts of linguistic reference is the observation that language users vary considerably in their referential choices, such as the choice between a definite expression and an overt pronoun in English or between an overt and a null pronoun in Italian. Part of the variation that is observed among and within language users and across tasks may be explained from variation in the cognitive resources available to speakers and listeners, such as working memory capacity, processing speed and perspective taking abilities. In this talk I will present the results of a series of cognitive modeling studies of reference production and comprehension that we carried out within the cognitive architecture ACT-R (Adaptive Control of Thought-Rational). Through computational simulations, it can be investigated how cognitive constraints interact with linguistic constraints and discourse prominence in adults and children, and how this interaction may give rise to variation in their reference production and comprehension.


Hendriks, Petra (2016). Cognitive modeling of individual variation in reference production and comprehension. Frontiers in Psychology 7:506. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00506

Van Rij, Jacolien, Hedderik van Rijn, & Petra Hendriks (2010). Cognitive architectures and language acquisition: A case study in pronoun comprehension. Journal of Child Language 37:3, 731-766.

Van Rij, Jacolien, Hedderik van Rijn, & Petra Hendriks (2013). How WM load influences linguistic processing in adults: A computational model of pronoun interpretation in discourse. Topics in Cognitive Science 5:3, 564-580.

Vogelzang, Margreet, Anne C. Mills, David Reitter, Jacolien van Rij, Petra Hendriks, & Hedderik van Rijn (2017). Toward cognitively constrained models of language processing: A review. Frontiers in Communication 2:11. doi: 10.3389/fcomm.2017.00011

Vogelzang, Margreet, Maria Teresa Guasti, Hedderik van Rijn & Petra Hendriks (in prep.), How   children process reduced forms: A computational cognitive modeling approach to pronoun processing in discourse.

If you would like to meet the speaker, please contact Harm Brouwer.