Idioms and fixed expressions as linguistic tools to study prediction and integration during sentence comprehension - Speaker: Francesco Vespignani
University of Trento, Department of Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Anticipatory processes based on specific predictions of upcoming events are pervasive in cognition and a growing body of research suggests a key role of anticipation in language processing. In this talk I will present results from a series of event-related potential (ERP) studies investigating fixed expressions such as idioms (e.g. to build castels in the air) and complex prepositions (e.g. with reference to). These are linguistic structures in which the cognitive system is likely to develop strong predictions that are different in nature from the discourse-based semantic ones. We found that manipulations of these structures lead to ERP correlates different from the N400, which is typically considered as the more reliable physiological sign of anticipation during sentence comprehension.
Starting from these examples I will try to address the following issues: is the current methodology and the interpretative framework of EEG/ERP data adequate to study predictive and anticipatory mechanisms? Is it conceivable that a unique cognitive architecture develops predictions and anticipated representations at different levels of abstraction on the basis of different sources of information?