Here are my slides for BUCLD 2018.
A number of recent theories propose that prediction facilitates efficient language processing. Supporting this idea are findings that listeners can use verb semantics and number markings to predict upcoming referents (Mani & Huettig, 2012; Lukyanenko & Fisher, 2016). However, precisely how prediction occurs during language processing remains uncertain. One prominent theory is prediction via simulation (Pickering & Garrod, 2013): Listeners use language production mechanisms to simulate the speaker’s upcoming production, which is contingent, at least in part, on perspective-taking and on well-developed language production mechanisms.
In the present study, we tested whether prediction occurs via simulation by evaluating whether listeners can use spatial deixis (this, that, these, and those) to predict the plurality and proximity of a speaker’s referent. In two eye-tracking tasks, English L1 adults, English L1 5-year-olds, and English L2 adults viewed scenes that included a speaker and four referents (experiment 1) or two referents (experiment 2). Participants listened to deictic sentences (e.g., Look at that wonderful cookie) and neutral sentences (e.g., Look at the wonderful cookie). Data collection for experiment 2 is ongoing, but preliminary findings suggest that only L1 adults are capable of prediction via simulation.
The present pattern of results suggests that prediction via simulation (Pickering & Garrod, 2013) supports processing for the mature, native speaker, but that extensive experience with cues in a language may be required before listeners can use this route for prediction. This three-group investigation goes beyond the empirical goal of assessing whether prediction occurs and evaluates how prediction occurs – a crucial goal for defining prediction’s role in language processing and learning.
We’re grateful to all participant families, to Claire Robertson for her assistance with stimuli, and to Mia Sullivan to her assistance with data collection and CHILDES coding.
Here is my poster for CogSci 2018.
Our study evaluated whether listeners can use spatial deixis (e.g., this, that, these, and those) to predict the plurality and proximity of a speaker’s referent. In an eye-tracking task, L1 adults, L1 children and L2 adults viewed scenes while listening to deictic sentences (e.g., Look at that beautiful baby) and neutral sentences (e.g., Look at the beautiful baby). We found that L1 adults, L1 children and L2 adults all used deixis to predict the plurality of the referent (e.g., using this to anticipate a singular referent). However, only L1 adults used deixis to predict the proximity of the referent to the speaker (e.g., using this to anticipate a referent proximal to the speaker). Thus, our findings suggest that language processing experience influences verbal prediction. We argue that, beyond determining whether listeners predict, determining how listeners predict is crucial to understand prediction’s role in language processing and learning.
Big thanks to all participant families, to Claire Robertson for her assistance with stimuli, and to Mia Sullivan to her assistance with ongoing data collection and CHILDES coding!
I’m looking forward to spending time at my alma mater and catching up with family and friends in Madison!
Here are my abstracts and posters for ICIS 2018.
Our first study evaluated the developmental emergence of verbal prediction and language comprehension. We find that prediction and comprehension emerge concurrently over the second postnatal year. These findings add to a growing body of literature suggesting that prediction is a language learning mechanism, and further suggest that prediction supports language development from the earliest stages, as infants learn their first words. Here’s the abstract and the poster.
Our second study evaluated whether variation in home language input influences children’s verbal prediction abilities. We found that children who hear more language input from caregivers generate predictions, but children who receive less input do not do so robustly. This pattern of results suggests that the quantity/quality of language experience learners receive influences the extent to which they generate predictions during language processing. Here’s the abstract and the poster.
Looking forward to seeing lots of exciting talks and posters and catching up with old friends from the UW Infant Learning Lab!
Here are my abstract and poster for CUNY 2018.
Our study evaluated whether listeners can use spatial deixis (e.g., this, that) to predict a speaker’s likely referent. Adults and 5-year-olds viewed scenes while listening to deictic sentences (e.g., Look at that beautiful baby) and neutral sentences (e.g., Look at the beautiful baby). We found that both adults and children used deixis to predict the plurality of the referent, but only adults used deixis to predict the proximity of the referent (e.g., using this to anticipate a referents proximal to the speaker). In sum, our findings reveal specific developmental changes in how prediction occurs during language processing.
Looking forward to next year!
The Princeton Program in Cognitive Science is now funding my research on language processing and prediction via simulation. Thanks to everyone who helped me in formulating these ideas and writing the application, especially Casey Lew-Williams and Jessie Schwab!
Reuter, T., Feiman, R. & Snedeker, J. (in press). Getting to no: Pragmatic and semantic factors in two- and three-year-olds’ understanding of negation. Child Development.
Here are my abstract and poster for CUNY 2017.
Our experiment was a first attempt to test a direct, causal relation between prediction and learning. We find that prediction itself doesn’t explain how children learn novel words, but 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds who predict and redirect attention toward the novel referent were more successful in learning. That being said, learning 12 novel words in just a few minutes was clearly difficult for children, as indicated by their low accuracy at test. In sum, further experiments are needed to evaluate the role of prediction in learning, and to clarify what other factors (e.g., cognitive control) are involved during learning.
It was a great time, as always, despite the snow!
Looking forward to CUNY 2018!