Intersentential coreference expectations reflect mental models of events

Theres Gruter, Aya Takeda, Hannah Rohde, Amy Schafer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Comprehenders’ perception of the world is mediated by the mental models they construct. During discourse processing, incoming information allows comprehenders to update their model of the events being described. At the same time, comprehenders use these models to generate expectations about who or what will be mentioned next. The temporal dynamics of this interdependence between language processing and mental event representation has been difficult to disentangle. The present visual world eye-tracking experiment measures listeners’ coreference expectations during an intersentential pause between a sentence about a transfer-of possession event and a continuation mentioning either its Source or Goal. We found a temporally dispersed but sustained preference for fixating the goal that was significantly greater when the event was described as completed rather than incomplete (passed versus was passing). This aligns with reported offline sensitivity to event structure, as conveyed via verb aspect, and provides new evidence that our mental model of an event lead to early and, crucially, proactive expectations about subsequent mention in the upcoming discourse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-176
JournalCognition
Volume177
Early online date25 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

Keywords

  • coreference
  • expectation-driven processing
  • verb aspect
  • eye tracking
  • mental model
  • event representation

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