[CaBSSem] Alec Marants: MEG studies of word recognition

Stephen Lindsay slindsay at uvic.ca
Tue Mar 25 14:32:08 PDT 2014

Prof Alec Marantz will be visiting UVic as a Lansdowne speaker near the end of this month.  Our Cognition and Brain Science Seminar on the 28th will feature Prof. Marantz .  Note that the talk is scheduled to start at 3:30, rather than our usual 3:00 start time.  He will also give two other talks, as detailed below.  The visit was organized by Prof. Martha McGinnis-Archibald of Linguistics.  If you have any interest with meeting with Prof. Marantz, please email Martha at mjmcginn at uvic.ca<mailto:mjmcginn at uvic.ca> ,

Alec Marantz has produced significant research in three distinct areas-morphology, syntax, and neurolinguistics. He completed his Ph.D. at MIT at the age of 23, joining Harvard's illustrious Society of Fellows. After serving for several years on the faculty of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, he moved to the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, where he eventually became a Distinguished Professor and Director of what is now the KIT/MIT/NYU MEG Joint Research Laboratory. In 2006 Dr. Marantz moved to New York University as a Professor of Linguistics and Psychology. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Kanazawa Institute of Technology, and Principal Investigator of a second MEG lab, at NYU Abu Dhabi. In 2008 Dr. Marantz won the Sam Williamson Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Biomagnetic Research.

Words and Rules Revisited: Construction and Memory in Language Representation and Processing   Wednesday, March 26, 7:00-8:30  DTB A102

This public lecture discusses how the human mind stores and constructs complex words. It examines the Words and Rules model proposed by well-known cognitive scientist Stephen Pinker, which claims that irregular complex words (like better, the comparative form of good) are stored in memory, while regular complex words (like higher, the comparative form of high) are assembled from their parts by systematic rules. As it turns out, linguistic and experimental data point to the opposite conclusion: both regular and irregular complex linguistic objects are "memorized," in a sense that has strong implications for understanding linguistic processing, but no consequences for linguistic representations. Instead, processing always involves full decomposition and recomposition of complex words and phrases, whether regular or irregular. This conclusion challenges Pinker's claims, and the essence of the Words and Rules framework.

Taking Interpretive Semantics Seriously: Argument-Introducing Heads in the Syntax and Semantics (work with Jim Wood) Thursday, March 27, 11:30-1:00 CLE D132

This talk explores the possibility that Voice, Applicative, and P are not categorically distinct syntactic heads, but contextual variants of a single argument-introducing head.  Crucial to the analysis is the explanation of such phenomena as the Japanese adversative causative construction, which is syntactically transitive, yet involves an inchoative interpretation of the verb, and an obligatory possessive relationship between the subject and direct object.  These constructions resemble certain expressions in English, including those with simple transitive possessive "have."  The linguistic system developed in this talk helps to answer certain mysteries, such as why Voice seems obligatory between Tense and a verb, but is not obligatory in general above a verb, and why canonical Applicative heads do not attach above Voice.

Competition and Prediction in Word Processing: MEG Studies of Visual and Auditory Word Recognition Friday, March 28, 3:30-5:00 COR A228

Recent experimental evidence supports the view that brain responses in language processing are not driven by competition between mental representations consistent with the linguistic input, but rather by entropy (a measure of uncertainty) over these representations, and surprisal (a measure of improbability) of processed input relative to this entropy.  Thus, for example, high cohort entropy (and thus high competition among members of a cohort) correlates with less neural activity, rather than more.  Morphological structure interacts with morpheme-cohort effects, in ways consistent with a full-decomposition view of complex word recognition.  The emerging picture allows us to use neurolinguistic evidence to test certain representational claims from the linguistics literature, for example the claim that all nouns and verbs are morphologically complex.

D. Stephen Lindsay, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
University of Victoria
P.O. Box 1700 STN CSC
Victoria, B.C. V8W 2Y2
v: (250) 721-8593
f: (250) 721-8929
w:  http://web.uvic.ca/~dslind/
Check out the new Sage Handbook of Applied Memory<http://www.uk.sagepub.com/books/Book237290?subject=K00&sortBy=defaultPubDate%20desc&fs=1#tabview=title> co-edited with Tim Perfect.  It's out!

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