Jutta L Mueller

Jutta L Mueller
University of Vienna | UniWien · Institute of Linguistics

PhD

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65
Publications
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1,332
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Publications

Publications (65)
Article
Despite humans’ ability to communicate about concepts relating to different senses, word learning research tends to largely focus on labeling visual objects. Although sensory modality is known to influence memory and learning, its specific role for word learning remains largely unclear. We investigated associative word learning in adults, that is t...
Article
Successful language processing entails tracking (morpho)syntactic relationships between distant units of speech, so-called nonadjacent dependencies (NADs). Many cues to such dependency relations have been identified, yet the linguistic elements encoding them have received little attention. In the present investigation, we tested whether and how the...
Article
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Existing work on the acquisition of polarity-sensitive expressions (PSIs) suggests that children show an early sensitivity to the restricted distribution of negative polarity items (NPIs), but may be delayed in the acquisition of positive polarity items (PPIs). However, past studies primarily targeted PSIs that are highly frequent in children’s lan...
Preprint
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The ability to learn and apply rules lies at the heart of cognition. In a seminal study, Marcus, Vijayan, Rao, and Vishton (1999) reported that seven-month-old infants learned abstract rules over syllable sequences and were able to generalize those rules to novel syllable sequences. Dozens of studies have since extended on that research using diffe...
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Rawski et al. revisit our recent findings suggesting the latent ability to process nonadjacent dependencies ("Non-ADs") in monkeys and apes. Specifically, the authors question the relevance of our findings for the evolution of human syntax. We argue that (i) these conclusions hinge upon an assumption that language processing is necessarily hierarch...
Article
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In order to become proficient native speakers, children have to learn the morpho-syntactic relations between distant elements in a sentence, so-called non-adjacent dependencies (NADs). Previous research suggests that NAD learning in children comprises different developmental stages, where until 2 years of age children are able to learn NADs associa...
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The ability to track syntactic relationships between words, particularly over distances ("nonadjacent dependencies"), is a critical faculty underpinning human language, although its evolutionary origins remain poorly understood. While some monkey species are reported to process auditory nonadjacent dependencies, comparative data from apes are missi...
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Despite the prominence of non-visual semantic features for some words (e.g., siren or thunder), little is known about when and how the meanings of those words that refer to auditory objects can be acquired in early infancy. With associative learning being an important mechanism of word learning, we ask the question whether associations between soun...
Preprint
Full-text available
In order to become proficient native speakers, children have to learn the morpho-syntactic relations between distant elements in a sentence, so-called non-adjacent dependencies (NADs). Previous research suggests that NAD learning in children comprises different developmental stages, where until 2 years of age children are able to learn NADs associa...
Article
Full-text available
Recent scholarship emphasizes the scaffolding role of language for cognition. Language, it is claimed, is a cognition-enhancing niche (Clark, 2006), a programming tool for cognition (Lupyan and Bergen, 2016), even neuroenhancement (Dove, 2019) and augments cognitive functions such as memory, categorization, cognitive control, and meta-cognitive abi...
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In order to memorize sentences we use both processes of language comprehension during encoding and processes of language production during maintenance. While the former processes are easily testable via controlled presentation of the input, the latter are more difficult to assess directly as language production is typically initiated and controlled...
Article
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One unresolved question about polarity sensitivity in theoretical linguistics concerns whether and to what extent negative and positive polarity items are parallel. Using event-related brain potentials (ERPs), previous studies found N400 and/or P600 components for negative and positive polarity violations with inconsistent results. We report on an...
Article
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Human cognition relies on the ability to encode complex regularities in the input. Regularities above a certain complexity level can involve the feature of embedding, defined by nested relations between sequential elements. While comparative studies suggest the cognitive processing of embedding to be human specific, evidence of its ontogenesis is l...
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Learning and processing natural language requires the ability to track syntactic relationships between words and phrases in a sentence, which are often separated by intervening material. These nonadjacent dependencies can be studied using artificial grammar learning paradigms and structured sequence processing tasks. These approaches have been used...
Article
Most human language learners acquire language primarily via the auditory modality. This is one reason why auditory artificial grammars play a prominent role in the investigation of the development and evolutionary roots of human syntax. The present position paper brings together findings from human and non‐human research on the impact of auditory c...
Article
Infants’ ability to learn complex linguistic regularities from early on has been revealed by electrophysiological studies indicating that 3-­month-­olds, but not adults, can automatically detect non-­adjacent dependencies between syllables. While different ERP responses in adults and infants suggest that both linguistic rule learning and its link t...
Article
The ability to process structured sequences of sounds lies at the basis of human language processing. Language is characterized by a high level of structural complexity including non-adjacent dependencies where the relationships between elements can span multiple intervening elements. Understanding how such structures can be learned is of particula...
Article
Sentences are easier to remember than random word sequences, likely because linguistic regularities facilitate chunking of words into meaningful groups. The present electroencephalography study investigated the neural oscillations modulated by this so-called sentence superiority effect during the encoding and maintenance of sentence fragments versu...
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There is considerable interest in understanding the ontogeny and phylogeny of the human language system, yet, neurobiological work at the interface of both fields is absent. Syntactic processes in language build on sensory processing and sequencing capabilities on the side of the receiver. While we better understand language-related ontogenetic cha...
Data
Boxplots for behavioral performance (accuracy and reaction time) for learners and non-learners across sessions. (A) Accuracy as percentage of correct answers across all trials in each session. (B) Reaction time across all correct trials in each session in milliseconds.
Article
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Sensitivity to regularities plays a crucial role in the acquisition of various linguistic features from spoken language input. Artificial grammar (AG) learning paradigms explore pattern recognition abilities in a set of structured sequences (i.e. of syllables or letters). In the present study, we investigated the functional underpinnings of learnin...
Article
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OPEN ACCESS http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00133/full In the present study, we investigate how early and late L2 learners process L2 grammatical traits that are either present or absent in their native language (L1). Thirteen early (AoA = 4 years old) and 13 late (AoA = 18 years old) Spanish learners of Basque performed...
Article
Language, an elaborate system of discrete units and combinatorial rules, builds on complex neurocognitive foundations. Language development results from both maturation and learning. Specifically, learning mechanisms are implemented in brain networks that are still in the process of structurally and functionally maturing during the first year of li...
Article
DOWNLOAD FULL-TEXT: http://authors.elsevier.com/a/1RCQd2VHXflCB It is widely agreed upon that linguistic predictions are an integral part of language comprehension. Yet, experimental proof of their existence remains challenging. Here, we introduce a new predictive eye gaze reading task combining eye tracking and functional magnetic resonance imagi...
Chapter
Die Linguistik ist die wissenschaftliche Erforschung der natürlichen menschlichen Sprache, die Aufbau, Funktion, Erwerb und Wandel von Sprache unter Bezug auf eine allgemeine Theorie der Sprachstruktur untersucht. Sie ist eine empirisch-theoretische Wissenschaft, deren Ziel es ist, Aspekte der Sprache systematisch zu erfassen und zugrunde liegende...
Article
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The present study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the neural correlates of language acquisition in a realistic learning environment. Japanese native speakers were trained in a miniature version of German prior to fMRI scanning. During scanning they listened to (1) familiar sentences, (2) sentences including a novel...
Article
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Sentences are easier to memorize than ungrammatical word strings, a phenomenon known as the sentence superiority effect. Yet, it is unclear how higher-order linguistic information facilitates verbal working memory and how this is implemented in the neural system. The goal of the current fMRI study was to specify the brain mechanisms underlying the...
Article
Learning takes place throughout lifetime but differs in infants and adults because of the immaturity of the PFC, a brain region responsible for cognitive control. To test this hypothesis, adults were investigated in a language learning paradigm under inhibitory, cathodal transcranial direct current stimulation over PFC. The experiment included a le...
Article
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Learning a spoken language presupposes efficient auditory functions. In the present event-related potential study, we tested whether and how basic auditory processes are related to online learning of a linguistic rule in infants and adults. Participants listened to frequent standard stimuli, which were interspersed with infrequent pitch deviants an...
Article
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Every language has the means to reverse the truth value of a sentence by using specific linguistic markers of negation. In the present study we investigated the neural processing costs afforded by the construction of meaning in German sentences containing negation in different clause types. We studied negations within and across clause boundaries a...
Article
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When learning a new language, grammar--although difficult--is very important, as grammatical rules determine the relations between the words in a sentence. There is evidence that very young infants can detect rules determining the relation between neighbouring syllables in short syllable sequences. A critical feature of all natural languages, howev...
Article
Miniature language learning can serve to model real language learning as high proficiency can be reached after very little exposure. In a previous study by Mueller et al. [18] German participants acquired non-adjacent syntactic dependencies by mere exposure to correct Italian sentences, but their ERP pattern differed from the one shown by native sp...
Article
The ability to process center-embedded structures has been claimed to represent a core function of the language faculty. Recently, several studies have investigated the learning of center-embedded dependencies in artificial grammar settings. Yet some of the results seem to question the learnability of these structures in artificial grammar tasks. H...
Article
Sequence processing has been investigated in a number of studies using serial reaction time tasks or simple artificial grammar tasks. Little, however, is known about higher-order sequence processing entailing the hierarchical organization of events. Here, we manipulated the regularities within sequentially occurring, non-linguistic visual symbols b...
Article
Full-text available
Artificial language studies have revealed the remarkable ability of humans to extract syntactic structures from a continuous sound stream by mere exposure. However, it remains unclear whether the processes acquired in such tasks are comparable to those applied during normal language processing. The present study compares the ERPs to auditory proces...
Data
Full-text available
verblist. Complete list of the verbs used in the experiment in their infinitive and gerund form.
Article
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Previous research on event-related potentials (ERPs) on second language processing has revealed a great degree of plasticity in brain mechanisms of adult language learners. Studies with natural and artificial languages show that the N400 as well as the P600 component appear in learners after sufficient training. The present experiment tests if and...
Article
Some language-related ERP responses are only observed in high proficiency L2 speakers. It is unknown, however, how these ERP patterns are influenced by language training. We tested the effect of semantic-free training on ERPs related to syntactic processing in auditory sentence comprehension in German participants learning a miniature version of Ja...
Article
Humans can derive sequential dependencies from unfamiliar artificial speech within several of minutes of exposure. However, there is an ongoing debate about the nature of the underlying learning processes. In a widely discussed study Peña et al. [Peña, M., Bonatti, L. L., Nespor, M., & Mehler, J. Signal-driven computations in speech processing. Sci...
Article
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The present experiments were designed to test how the linguistic feature of case is processed in Japanese by native and non-native listeners. We used a miniature version of Japanese as a model to compare sentence comprehension mechanisms in native speakers and non-native learners who had received training until they had mastered the system. In the...
Article
The present chapter bridges two lines of neurocognitive research, which are, despite being related, usually discussed separately from each other. The two fields, second language (L2) sentence comprehension and artificial grammar processing, both depend on the successful learning of complex sequential structures. The comparison of the two research d...
Article
The capability to understand and use language is an uniquely human skill, the specific neural mechanisms of which remain largely elusive. In the past decade neuropsychologists and linguists have worked together to try to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding every day language processing. It has been shown with the help of neurophysiological me...
Article
Zusammenfassung Die Zusammenführung sprachwissenschaftlicher Theorien und neurophysiologischer Messverfahren führte in den letzten Jahrzehnten zu einem vertieften Verständnis der neuronalen Grundlagen der menschlichen Sprachverarbeitung. Spezifische in der Sprache enthaltene Informationstypen, wie z.B. grammatische Struktur oder Bedeutungsinformati...
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This study reports the results of two behavioral and two event-related brain potential experiments examining the processing of inflected words in second-language (L2) learners with Russian as their native language. Two different subsystems of German inflection were studied, participial inflection and noun plurals. For participial forms, L2 learners...
Article
Several event-related potential (ERP) studies in second language (L2) processing have revealed a differential vulnerability of syntax-related ERP effects in contrast to purely semantic ERP effects. However, it is still debated to what extent a potential critical period for L2 acquisition, as opposed to the attained proficiency level in the L2, cont...
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this article is to provide a selective review of event-related potential (ERP) research on second language processing. As ERPs have been used in the investigation of a variety of linguistic domains, the reported studies cover different paradigms assessing processing mechanisms in the second language at various levels, ranging from phonem...
Article
The main research question of this thesis was to test if native-like ERP patterns in response to specific processing difficulties would emerge in postpubescent L2 learners at a stage of very high proficiency. In most precious ERP studies on L2 processing ERP components related to syntactic processes were found to be different in L2 as compared to L...

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Projects (4)
Project
The aim is to better understand what inner speech is and how it is to be distinguished from other, similar phenomena. The project also examines the cognitive underpinning as well as the cognition benefits of inner speech.
Project
What role does the modality-specificity of the learning processes play in word meaning association? What is the role of individual sensory experience in the modality-specific learning processes?
Project
Based on our infant EEG-fNIRS studies on processing complex regularities (nested dependencies), we conducted two adult EEG studies under active and passive listening conditions.