PSY 369: Psycholinguistics
What is Language and how is it
related to Cognitive Psychology?
What is language?
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What do you think language is?
tweet tweet trill
Johnny wanna cracker
tlhIngan Hol Dajatlh'a'?
Johnny wanna cracker
Do you speak Klingon?
What is language?
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
What do you think language is?
A difficult question to answer:
“Language is a purely human and non-instinctive
method of communicating ideas, emotions and
desires by means of voluntrily produced symbols.”
Edward Sapir (1921)
“A language is a set (finite or infinite) of
sentences, each finite in length and constructed
out of a finite set of elements.”
Noam Chomsky (1957)
Define: language
What is language?
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Some generally agreed upon characteristics
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A system of communication
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Symbolic
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Language use is under our individual control
Language is systematic
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Elements are used to represent something other than itself
Voluntary
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Thought be many to be uniquely human
There is hierarchical structure that organizes linguistic
elements
Modalities
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Spoken, written, signed (sign language)
Assumed primacy of speech - it came first
Language is complex
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Studied from a variety of perspectives
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Linguistics
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Psycholinguistics
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Language in the world
Language in the mind
Neurolinguistics
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Language in the brain
Demos
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Read a list and then have them recall the items
1, 9, 8, 7, 1, 7, 7, 6, 2, 0, 1 , 4
1987, 1776, 2014
Car gravel painting tree running bright cold book chopsticks mansion television
Colorless green ideas sleep furiously while gray Irish sheep graze voraciously
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Play/show some sentences from google translate (mute the projector here)
Demos

Read a list and then have them recall the items
1, 9, 8, 7, 1, 7, 7, 6, 2, 0, 1 , 4
1987, 1776, 2014
Car gravel painting tree running bright cold book chopsticks mansion television
Colorless green ideas sleep furiously while gray Irish sheep graze voraciously

Play/show some sentences from google translate
Japanese
Russian
The record store is closed today
The record store is closed
today
The record store is closed today
German
Demos
Wrestling
Prison
Rocky slowly got up from the mat, planning his escape. He hesitated a moment
and thought. Things were not going well. What bothered him most was
being held, especially since the charge against him had been weak. He
considered his present situation. The lock that held him was strong but he
thought he could break it. He knew, however, that his timing would have to
be perfect. Rocky was aware that it was because of his early roughness that
he had been penalized so severely - much too severely from his point of
view. The situation was becoming frustrating; the pressure had been
grinding on him for too long. He was being ridden unmercifully. Rocky was
getting angry now. He felt he was ready to make his move. He knew that his
success or failure would depend on what he did in the next few seconds.
Overview of comprehension
Perception
Input
The cat
chased
the rat.
Attention
Memory
Language
Word
Syntactic Semantic &
perception recognition analysis
pragmatic
analysis
c
dog
a
cap
cat
S
wolf
t
NP VP
tree
NP
the cat V
yarn
/k/
chased the rat
cat
/ae/
claw
/t/
fur
hat
What is Cognitive Psychology?

It is the body of psychological experimentation that deals with issues
of human memory, language use, problem solving, decision making,
and reasoning.
“Cognitive Psychology refers to all processes by which the sensory
input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and
used.” Ulric Neisser (1967)
Attention
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Limited capacity resource
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Filtering capabilities
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Spotlight analogy
Resource pool
Early selection
Late selection
Integration function
Memory
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Sensory Stores
Short-term memory
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Working memory
Long-term memory
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Declarative
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Episodic
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Semantic
Procedural
The ‘standard model’
Information
Information ‘flows’ from one memory buffer to the next
Sensory memory
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Properties
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High capacity
Extremely fast decay
Separate systems for different sensory modalities
Short term memory
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Properties
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rapid access (about 35 milliseconds per item)
limited capacity (7+/- 2 chunks; George Miller, 1956)
fast decay, about 12 seconds (longer if rehearsed or
elaborated)
Short term memory
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Increasing your STM span
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Chunking
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Grouping information together into larger units
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I’ll read a few more lists of words for you to recall
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Barn snow tree car rock book key plant dress cup slide lamp
Dog cat mouse shoe sock toe couch pillow blanket table desk chair
Down flowers the by with chased yellow several girls a river boy.
A boy chased several girls with yellow flowers down by the river.
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Notice that the previous two are the same words, but the syntax allows
for grouping into meaningful ‘chunks’
Long term memory
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Properties
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Capacity: Unlimited?
Duration: Decay/interference, retrieval difficulty
Organization
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Multiple subsystems for type of memory
Associative networks
Long term memory: Organization
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This theory suggests that there
are different memory
components, each storing
different kinds of information.
Declarative
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The Multiple Memory
Stores Theory
Declarative
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episodic
Episodic - memories about
events
Semantic - knowledge of facts
Procedural - memories about
how to do things (e.g., the thing
that makes you improve at
riding a bike with practice).
Procedural

semantic
Long term memory: Organization
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How is semantic memory structured?
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Networks
Attention
“ Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking possession
by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem
several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought.
Focalization, concentration, of consciousness are of its essence.
It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal
effectively with others…”
William James (1890)
However Britt Anderson recently writes:
“There is no such thing as attention”
(Frontiers in Psychology, 2011).
Attention: An information filter

Information bottleneck. There is so much info,
only some is let through, while the rest is filtered
out
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Early selection (e.g., Broadbent, 1958, Triesman, 1964)
Late filters (Deutsch & Deutsch, 1963)
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Everything gets in, bottleneck comes at response level (can only
respond to limited number of things)
Cocktail party effect, dichotic listening
Attention: Limited resource
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Only have so much ‘energy’ to make things go,
so need to divide it and allocate it to processes
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Single pool (e.g., Kahneman, 1973)
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Multiple pools (e.g., Navon & Gopher, 1979)
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Central bank of resources available to all tasks that need it
Several banks of specialized resources – divided up in terms
of input/output modalities, stages of info processing
(perception, memory, response output)
Dual task experiments
Attention: Integration
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Attention is used to ‘glue’ features together
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Feature integration theory & Visual search exps
Where’s Waldo
Find the X
X
X
X
X
XX XX
XX
X
XX
X
O
OO XO
XO
O
XX
X
X
O
X
O X
Pop out
Slow search
Other Common Theoretical Issues

Example:
Letter Recognition - How do we recognize a group of lines
and curves as letters?
 Mechanisms
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Information Flow
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Template matching
Feature detection and integration
Top-down vs. Bottom-up
Modular vs. Interactive
Automatic vs. Controlled processing
Letter Recognition
A Feature Detection based theory
Selfridge’s Pandemonium system, 1959
Bottom-up & Top-down
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Terms come from computer science


E
Bottom up (data driven) relies upon evidence that is
physically present, building larger units based on
smaller ones
Top down (knowledge driven, context), using higherlevel information to support lower-level processes
T
E
FROG
C T
Word Recognition
Interactive Activation Model (AIM)
Previous models posed a
bottom-up flow of
information (from features to
letters to words).
IAM also poses a top-down
flows of information
Nodes:
• (visual) feature
McClelland and Rumelhart, (1981)
• (positional) letter
• word detectors
• Inhibitory and excitatory connections between them.
Automaticity
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Controlled processes
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Require resources
Under some volitional direction
Slow, effortful
Automatic processes
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Require little attention
Obligatory
Fast
Summing up
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Psycholinguistic view

Language and cognition are inextricably linked

Notice that almost all of the experiment demonstrations
involved language elements as stimuli
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PSY 369: Psycholinguistics