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    ABSTRACT: In English, transitive events can be described in various ways. The main possibilities are active-voice and passive-voice, which are assumed to have distinct semantic and pragmatic functions. Within the passive, there are two further options, namely be-passive or get-passive. While these two forms are generally understood to differ, there is little agreement on precisely how and why. The passive Patient is frequently cited as playing a role, though again agreement on the specifics is rare. Here we present three paraphrasing experiments investigating Patient-related constraints on the selection of active vs. passive voice, and be- vs. get-passive, respectively. Participants either had to re-tell short stories in their own words (Experiments 1 and 2) or had to answer specific questions about the Patient in those short stories (Experiment 3). We found that a given Agent in a story promotes the use of active-voice, while a given Patient promotes be-passives specifically. Meanwhile, get-passive use increases when the Patient is marked as important. We argue that the three forms of transitive description are functionally and semantically distinct, and can be arranged along two dimensions: Patient Prominence and Patient Importance. We claim that active-voice has a near-complementary relationship with the be-passive, driven by which protagonist is given. Since both get and be are passive, they share the features of a Patient-subject and an optional Agent by-phrase; however, get specifically responds to a Patient being marked as important. Each of these descriptions has its own set of features that differentiate it from the others.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · Frontiers in Psychology
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    ABSTRACT: Healthy participants tend to show systematic biases in spatial attention, usually to the left. However, these biases can shift rightwards as a result of a number of experimental manipulations. Using electroencephalography (EEG) and a computerized line bisection task, here we investigated for the first time the neural correlates of changes in spatial attention bias induced by line-length (the so-called line-length effect). In accordance with previous studies, an overall systematic left bias (pseudoneglect) was present during long line but not during short line bisection performance. This effect of line-length on behavioral bias was associated with stronger right parieto-occipital responses to long as compared to short lines in an early time window (100-200ms) post-stimulus onset. This early differential activation to long as compared to short lines was task-independent (present even in a non-spatial control task not requiring line bisection), suggesting that it reflects a reflexive attentional response to long lines. This was corroborated by further analyses source-localizing the line-length effect to the right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) and revealing a positive correlation between the strength of this effect and the magnitude by which long lines (relative to short lines) drive a behavioral left bias across individuals. Therefore, stimulus-driven left bisection bias was associated with increased right hemispheric engagement of areas of the ventral attention network. This further substantiates that this network plays a key role in the genesis of spatial bias, and suggests that post-stimulus TPJ-activity at early information processing stages (around the latency of the N1 component) contributes to the left bias.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · NeuroImage
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    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Cortex
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