Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Experimental Psycholinguistics

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Institute of Linguistics and Language Technology

DESCRIPTION This unit will focus on models and results from the area of experimental psycholinguistics, with particular emphasis on:

- Language comprehension, especially parsing and understanding: Here, students will be introduced to important current debates, such as (a) the modularity or otherwise of the language processor; (b) integration of multiple information sources (language, vision etc) in comprehension; (c) robust effects on processing effort and errors during reading and understanding (e.g. the effect of syntactic ambiguity)

- Language production in both dialogue and non-dialogue settings: Students will be introduced to current models of language production (e.g. Levelt's Blueprint for the Speaker) and their computational implications (for example, in the design of Natural Language Generation systems). This part of the course will also cover contemporary insights into language processing mechanisms, particularly priming phenomena at multiple levels.

In addition, the unit will also build on "Experimental Techniques and Paradigms", by covering selected experimental methods in detail. Examples of these include eye tracking and priming experiments.

Study-unit Aims

Together with the unit "Experimental techniques and paradigms", on which it builds, this unit's primary aim is to provide students of the proposed BSc Human Speech and Language Technology degree with the tools for pursuing research in an experimental setting.

As a secondary aim, the unit functions as part of a general programme which prepares students to undertake empirical work in any area related to natural language using a broad diversity of tools, whether experimental, as in the present unit, or using automated means, as in the units focusing on corpora (e.g. LIN3098 "Corpus Linguistics" and CSA5011 "Corpora and Statistical Methods").

Learning Outcomes

1. Knowledge & Understanding: By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- critically evaluate different psycholinguistic models against empirical evidence;
- identify the main methods used in current experimental work;
- identify the main theoretical issues in contemporary psycholinguistics.

2. Skills: By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- critique a theoretical model with reference to the empirical evidence for/against it;
- appreciate the interplay between theoretical modelling and experimental evaluation.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings

Students will be assigned a reading pack consisting of key articles, including:

- G. T. M. Altmann (1988). Ambiguity in Sentence Processing. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Vol. 2( 4)
- M. Coltheart. Modularity and Cognition (1999). Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Vol. 3(3)
- M. Crocker (1999). Mechanisms for Sentence Processing. In: S. Garrod & M. Pickering (eds), Language Processing. London, UK: Psychology Press
- W. Levelt (1999). A Blueprint of the speaker. In C. Brown & P. Hagoort (Eds.), The neurocognition of language (chapter 4). Oxford: Oxford University Press


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Holger Mitterer

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.