A Computational Cognitive Model of Syntactic Priming

Cognitive Science 35 (4):587-637 (2011)
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Abstract

The psycholinguistic literature has identified two syntactic adaptation effects in language production: rapidly decaying short-term priming and long-lasting adaptation. To explain both effects, we present an ACT-R model of syntactic priming based on a wide-coverage, lexicalized syntactic theory that explains priming as facilitation of lexical access. In this model, two well-established ACT-R mechanisms, base-level learning and spreading activation, account for long-term adaptation and short-term priming, respectively. Our model simulates incremental language production and in a series of modeling studies, we show that it accounts for (a) the inverse frequency interaction; (b) the absence of a decay in long-term priming; and (c) the cumulativity of long-term adaptation. The model also explains the lexical boost effect and the fact that it only applies to short-term priming. We also present corpus data that verify a prediction of the model, that is, that the lexical boost affects all lexical material, rather than just heads

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