Data from eye-tracking corpora as evidence for theories of syntactic processing complexity

Vera Demberg, Frank Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We evaluate the predictions of two theories of syntactic processing complexity, dependency locality theory (DLT) and surprisal, against the Dundee Corpus, which contains the eye-tracking record of 10 participants reading 51,000 words of newspaper text. Our results show that DLT integration cost is not a significant predictor of reading times for arbitrary words in the corpus. However, DLT successfully predicts reading times for nouns. We also find evidence for integration cost effects at auxiliaries, not predicted by DLT. For surprisal, we demonstrate that an unlexicalized formulation of surprisal can predict reading times for arbitrary words in the corpus. Comparing DLT integration cost and surprisal, we find that the two measures are uncorrelated, which suggests that a complete theory will need to incorporate both aspects of processing complexity. We conclude that eye-tracking corpora, which provide reading time data for naturally occurring, contextualized sentences, can complement experimental evidence as a basis for theories of processing complexity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-210
Number of pages18
JournalCognition
Volume109
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008

Keywords

  • Surprisal
  • Eye-tracking
  • Processong complexity
  • Dependency locality theory

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Data from eye-tracking corpora as evidence for theories of syntactic processing complexity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this