Theses Doctoral

Structural Priming and the Mental Representation of Agentive and Temporal by-Phrase Constructions: An Eye-Tracking Study

Fusella, Paul Vincent

The phenomenon in psycholinguistics known as structural priming happens, during language comprehension, when a prime sentence facilitates the processing speed of a target sentence, when both bear the same syntactic structure. In the present study, two specific passive constructions were investigated, the agentive by-phrase and the temporal by-phrase, to evaluate whether these structures primes each other or whether they prime themselves.

On-line sentence processing measured by eye-tracking data in the form of duration of fixations within the AOIs (areas of interest) as well as fixation regressions to those AOIs corresponding to the prepositional by-phrases, the NP (det N), and the VP (aux V) respectively.

The study yielded significant findings for priming of agentive targets with agentive primes and a failure to find priming in all other combinations of agentive and temporal prime and target conditions. The implications of these findings for an understanding of the mental representation of syntax of these constructions are discussed.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Cognitive Studies in Education
Thesis Advisors
Gordon, Peter
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
March 8, 2021