Maryellen Coles MacDonald

Maryellen Coles MacDonald
University of Wisconsin–Madison | UW · Department of Psychology

Ph.D.

About

119
Publications
40,070
Reads
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10,477
Citations
Citations since 2017
18 Research Items
3044 Citations
20172018201920202021202220230100200300400500
20172018201920202021202220230100200300400500
20172018201920202021202220230100200300400500
20172018201920202021202220230100200300400500
Additional affiliations
July 2001 - present
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Position
  • Professor (Full)
September 1992 - June 2001
University of Southern California
Position
  • Professor (Full)
September 1992 - June 2001
University of Southern California
Position
  • Professor (Full)

Publications

Publications (119)
Article
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The fields of language production and verbal memory have relatively little contact. I argue that utterance planning for language production has substantial memory maintenance demands and that utterance planning provides the maintenance and ordering processes for short-term verbal memory tasks. There has already been some movement toward this view....
Article
There is still much debate about the nature of the experiential and maturational changes that take place during childhood to bring about the sophisticated language abilities of an adult. The present study investigated text exposure as a possible source of linguistic experience that plays a role in the development of adult-like language abilities. C...
Article
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Can some black-white differences in reading achievement be traced to differences in language background? Many African American children speak a dialect that differs from the mainstream dialect emphasized in school. We examined how use of alternative dialects affects decoding, an important component of early reading and marker of reading development...
Article
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Language production processes can provide insight into how language comprehension works and language typology-why languages tend to have certain characteristics more often than others. Drawing on work in memory retrieval, motor planning, and serial order in action planning, the Production-Distribution-Comprehension (PDC) account links work in the f...
Article
Dominant theories of language production suggest that word choice—lexical selection—is driven by alignment with the intended message: To talk about a young feline, we choose the most aligned word, kitten. Another factor that could shape lexical selection is word accessibility, or how easy it is to produce a given word (e.g., cat is more accessible...
Article
Ingendahl et al. [1] describe recent work on the in-out effect in articulation with the express purpose of engaging others in trying to solve its mysteries. The effect is that speakers prefer words with consonant or syllable sequences that proceed from front to back in the mouth, such as madiko, over those that go from back to front, such as kadimo...
Article
Hysteresis in motor planning and syntactic priming in language planning refer to the influence of prior production history on current production behaviour. Computational efficiency accounts of action hysteresis and theoretical accounts of syntactic priming both argue that reusing an existing plan is less costly than generating a novel plan. Despite...
Article
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Language production involves action sequencing to produce fluent speech in real-time, placing a computational burden on working memory that leads to sequencing biases in production. Here we examine whether these biases extend beyond language to constrain one of the most complex human behaviors: music improvisation. Using a large corpus of improvis...
Article
Fiction reading experience affects emotion recognition abilities, yet the causal link remains underspecified. Current theory suggests fiction reading promotes the simulation of fictional minds, which supports emotion recognition skills. We examine the extent to which contextualized statistical experience with emotion category labels in language is...
Article
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The nature of syntactic planning for language production may reflect language-specific processes, but an alternative is that syntactic planning is an example of more domain-general action planning processes. If so, language and non-linguistic action planning should have identifiable commonalities, consistent with an underlying shared system. Action...
Article
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Do you know how to speak a foreign language? Learning another language is fun and useful! It can help you when you travel to other countries, and it might also help you talk with people in your own country who do not speak your language. If you have ever tried learning another language, you might know that it is not always easy. One difficult part...
Article
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This article reviews current models of verbal working memory and considers the role of language comprehension and long-term memory in the ability to maintain and order verbal information for short periods of time. While all models of verbal working memory posit some interaction with long-term memory, few have considered the character of these long-...
Preprint
Language production involves complex action sequencing to produce fluent speech in real-time, placing considerable constraints on working memory that lead to sequencing biases in production. Researchers have speculated that these biases may extend beyond language to other human behaviors involving action sequencing, but this claim has not been empi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Language production involves complex action sequencing to produce fluent speech in real-time, placing considerable constraints on working memory that lead to sequencing biases in production. Researchers have speculated that these biases may extend beyond language to other human behaviors involving action sequencing, but this claim has not been emp...
Article
Language learners often spend more time comprehending than producing a new language. However, memory research suggests reasons to suspect that production practice might provide a stronger learning experience than comprehension practice. We tested the benefits of production during language learning and the degree to which this learning transfers to...
Article
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This article reviews the important role of statistical learning for language and reading development. Although statistical learning—the unconscious encoding of patterns in language input—has become widely known as a force in infants’ early interpretation of speech, the role of this kind of learning for language and reading comprehension in children...
Article
Structural priming is poorly understood and cannot inform accounts of grammar for two reasons. First, those who view performance as grammar + processing will always be able to attribute psycholinguistic data to processing rather than grammar. Second, structural priming may be simply an example of hysteresis effects in general action planning. If so...
Article
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Cross-linguistic studies allow for analyses that would be impossible in a single language. To better understand the factors that underlie sentence production, we investigated production choices in main and relative clause production tasks in three languages: English, Japanese and Korean. The effects of both non-linguistic attributes (such as concep...
Article
Unfamiliar speech—spoken in a familiar language but with an accent different from the listener’s—is known to increase comprehension difficulty. However, there is evidence of listeners’ rapid adaptation to unfamiliar accents (although perhaps not to the level of familiar accents). This paradox might emerge from prior focus on isolated word perceptio...
Article
Both the Now-or-Never bottleneck and the chunking mechanisms hypothesized to cope with it are more variable than Christiansen & Chater (C&C) suggest. These constructs are, therefore, too weak to support C&C’s claims for the nature of language. Key aspects of the hierarchical nature of language instead arise from the nature of sequencing of subgoals...
Article
Both the Now-or-Never bottleneck and the chunking mechanisms hypothesized to cope with it are more variable than Christiansen & Chater (C&C) suggest. These constructs are, therefore, too weak to support C&C's claims for the nature of language. Key aspects of the hierarchical nature of language instead arise from the nature of sequencing of subgoals...
Article
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As researchers keenly interested in the language production-memory-comprehension dynamic, we welcome investigations of production difficulty by Scontras, Badecker, Shank, Lim, and Fedorenko (2015, henceforth SBSLF). However, their experiments provide little new information, and we question their broader memory-production approach. 1. What is SBSLF'...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Agreement; Sentence completion; English A canonical finding in agreement production research is local noun interference; subjects produce more agreement violations (e.g. "the key to the cabinets *are…") when a local noun of mismatched number (cabinets) appears between the head noun (key) and its verb than when the local noun and head noun share the...
Chapter
More recent studies have begun to investigate statistical learning over combinations of distributions, in infants and continuing through adulthood, which allow comprehenders to learn over the input that they have encountered. What the Production–Distribution–Comprehension (PDC) adds to this work is a link to the origin of the statistics used in con...
Article
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Interference effects from semantically similar items are well-known in studies of single word production, where the presence of semantically similar distractor words slows picture naming. This article examines the consequences of this interference in sentence production and tests the hypothesis that in situations of high similarity-based interferen...
Article
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Purpose: This study was designed to examine the relationships among minority dialect use, language ability, and young African American English (AAE)-speaking children's understanding and awareness of Mainstream American English (MAE). Method: Eighty-three 4- to 8-year-old AAE-speaking children participated in 2 experimental tasks. One task evalu...
Article
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The role of visual salience on utterance form was investigated in a picture description study. Participants heard spoken questions about animate or inanimate entities in a picture and produced a relative clause in response. Visual properties of the scenes affected production choices such that less salient inanimate entities tended to yield longer i...
Conference Paper
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Adults are sophisticated language users, and there is much debate as to the maturational and experiential changes that occur throughout childhood to bring about these abilities. We propose that the onset of literacy may be an important event in the course of language development, as it marks a qualitative shift in the linguistic patterns to which a...
Article
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Sentences containing relative clauses are well known to be difficult to comprehend, and they have long been an arena in which to investigate the role of working memory in language comprehension. However, recent work has suggested that relative clause processing is better described by ambiguity resolution processes than by limits on extrinsic workin...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Language production studies tend to investigate central tendencies, though there are extensive individual differences in any production task. Studying this variability in behavior can be revealing of the motivations and consequences of production choices. In a picture-description task, participants used either active object or passive relative clau...
Article
This work investigates production preferences in different languages. Specifically, it examines how animacy, competition processes, and language-specific constraints shape speakers' choices of structure. English, Spanish and Serbian speakers were presented with depicted events in which either an animate or inanimate entity was acted upon by an agen...
Article
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The influence of semantic processing on the serial ordering of items in short-term memory was explored using a novel dual-task paradigm. Participants engaged in 2 picture-judgment tasks while simultaneously performing delayed serial recall. List material varied in the presence of phonological overlap (Experiments 1 and 2) and in semantic content (c...
Article
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Heavy-NP shift is the tendency for speakers to place long direct object phrases at the end of a clause rather than next to the verb. Though some analyses have focused on length of the direct object phrase alone, results from two experiments demonstrate that the length of the direct object relative to that of other phrases, and not the length of the...
Article
A study combining artificial grammar and sentence comprehension methods investigated the learning and online use of probabilistic, nonadjacent combinatorial constraints. Participants learned a small artificial language describing cartoon monsters acting on objects. Self-paced reading of sentences in the artificial language revealed comprehenders' s...
Article
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Reports an error in "Verbal working memory and language production: Common approaches to the serial ordering of verbal information" by Daniel J. Acheson and Maryellen C. MacDonald (Psychological Bulletin, 2009[Jan], Vol 135[1], 50-68). In the article “Verbal Working Memory and Language Production: Common Approaches to the Serial Ordering of Verbal...
Article
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Although phonological representations have been a primary focus of verbal working memory research, lexical-semantic manipulations also influence performance. In the present study, the authors investigated whether a classic phenomenon in verbal working memory, the phonological similarity effect (PSE), is modulated by a lexical-semantic variable, wor...
Article
Most current approaches to linguistic structure suggest that language is recursive, that recursion is a fundamental property of grammar, and that independent performance constraints limit recursive abilities that would otherwise be infinite. This article presents a usage-based perspective on recursive sentence processing, in which recursion is cons...
Article
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A key assumption in language comprehension is that biases in behavioral data, such as the tendency to interpret John said that Mary left yesterday to mean that yesterday modifies the syntactically local verb left, not the distant verb said, reflect inherent biases in the language comprehension system. In the present article, an alternative producti...
Article
A robust result in research on the production of grammatical agreement is that speakers are more likely to produce an erroneous verb with phrases such as the key to the cabinets, with a singular noun followed by a plural one, than with phrases such as the keys to the cabinet, where a plural noun is followed by a singular. These asymmetries are thou...
Article
We tested the ability of Alzheimer's patients and elderly controls to name living and non-living nouns, and manner and instrument verbs. Patients' error patterns and relative performance with different categories showed evidence of graceful degradation for both nouns and verbs, with particular domain-specific impairments for living nouns and instru...
Article
Six studies investigated the relationship between production and comprehension by examining how relative clause production mechanisms influence the probabilistic information used by comprehenders to understand these structures. Two production experiments show that accessibility-based mechanisms that are influenced by noun animacy and verb type shap...
Article
Many accounts of working memory posit specialized storage mechanisms for the maintenance of serial order. We explore an alternative, that maintenance is achieved through temporary activation in the language production architecture. Four experiments examined the extent to which the phonological similarity effect can be explained as a sublexical spee...
Article
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Verbal working memory (WM) tasks typically involve the language production architecture for recall; however, language production processes have had a minimal role in theorizing about WM. A framework for understanding verbal WM results is presented here. In this framework, domain-specific mechanisms for serial ordering in verbal WM are provided by t...
Article
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Comparatively little is known about how semantic properties (such as animacy) and syntactic properties (such as word order) affect production of complex sentences. Relative clauses were elicited using a picture description task that manipulated head noun animacy in both English (which has head-first relative clauses and Japanese (head-final relativ...
Article
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Many explanations of the difficulties associated with interpreting object relative clauses appeal to the demands that object relatives make on working memory. MacDonald and Christiansen [MacDonald, M. C., & Christiansen, M. H. (2002). Reassessing working memory: Comment on Just and Carpenter (1992) and Waters and Caplan (1996). Psychological Review...
Article
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In traditional models of language production grammatical cat-egories are represented as abstract features independent of se-mantics and phonology. An alternative view is proposed where syntactic categories emerge as a higher-order regularity from semantic and phonological properties of words. The proposal was tested using grammatical gender in Serb...
Article
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The relationship between print exposure and measures of reading skill was examined in college students (N = 99, 58 female; mean age = 20.3 years). Print exposure was measured with several new self-reports of reading and writing habits, as well as updated versions of the Author Recognition Test and the Magazine Recognition Test (Stanovich & West, 19...
Article
This article examined whether semantic indeterminacy plays a role in comprehension of complex structures such as object relative clauses. Study 1 used a gated sentence completion task to assess which alternative interpretations are dominant as the relative clause unfolds; Study 2 compared reading times in object relative clauses containing differen...
Article
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Berent and Pinker (2007) presented five experiments concerning the formation of compounds, especially the apparent restriction on the occurrence of "regular" plurals as modifiers (as in *RATS-EATER). Their data were said to support a "words and rules" approach to inflectional morphology, and to contradict the approach developed by Haskell, MacDonal...
Article
The meaning of a word usually depends on the context in which it occurs. This study investigated the neural mechanisms involved in computing word meanings that change as a function of syntactic context. Current semantic processing theories suggest that word meanings are retrieved from diverse cortical regions storing sensory-motor and other types o...
Chapter
This chapter focuses on two types of ambiguity: lexical and syntactic ambiguity. The two kinds of ambiguity can interact-for example, adopting noun vs. verb interpretation of man affects how one interprets the syntactic structure of a sentence containing this word. Despite the close relationship between these two types of ambiguity, for much of the...
Article
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Inspired by adult models of language production and comprehension, we investi-gate whether children's nonadult interpretation of ambiguous negative quantified sentences reflects their sensitivity to distributional patterns of language use. Studies 1 and 2 show that ambiguous negative quantified sentences of the sort typically used in acquisition st...
Article
Older and younger adults' abilities to use context information rapidly during ambiguity resolution were investigated. In Experiments 1 and 2, younger and older adults heard ambiguous words (e.g., fires) in sentences where the preceding context supported either the less frequent or more frequent meaning of the word. Both age groups showed good conte...
Article
Full-text available
A number of studies have shown that structural factors play a much larger role than the linear order of words during the production of grammatical agreement. These findings have been used as evidence for a stage in the production process at which hierarchical relations between constituents have been established (a necessary precursor to agreement),...
Article
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Although inflectional morphology has been the focus of considerable debate in recent years, most research has focused on English, which has a much simpler inflectional system than in many other languages. We have been studying Serbian, which has a complex inflectional system that encodes gender, number, and case. The present study investigated the...
Article
In noun compounds in English, the modifying noun may be singular (mouse-eater) or an irregularly inflected plural (mice-eater), but regularly inflected plurals are dispreferred (*rats-eater). This phenomenon has been taken as strong evidence for dual-mechanism theories of lexical representations, which hold that regular (rule-governed) and irregula...
Article
Traditional theories of agreement production assume that verb agreement is an essentially syntactic process. However, recent work shows that agreement is subject to a variety of influences both syntactic and non-syntactic, which raises the question of how these different sources of information are integrated during agreement production. We propose...
Article
Three experiments examined plausibility effects on the production and comprehension of subject–verb agreement. In a production task, participants were given a verb and sentence preamble and asked to create a complete passive sentence. The preambles contained two nouns (e.g., the album by the classical composers). The plausibility of the verb was ma...
Article
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We explore the interplay between production and comprehension by investigating why producers insert or omit the function word "that" in Object Relative Clauses, and how this choice affects comprehension. We present data from three experiments which suggests that producers insert "that" to alleviate production difficulty and in doing so create a dis...
Article
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How do we acquire language? Do we identify words in a stream of speech by identifying statistical regularities or by seeking grammatical structure? A new study of adults ([PeA±a][1] et al .) suggests that language acquisition involves a mixture of both types of learning. But, as [Seidenberg][2] and colleagues discuss in their Perspective, distingui...
Article
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M. A. Just and P. A. Carpenter's (1992) capacity theory of comprehension posits a linguistic working memory functionally separated from the representation of linguistic knowledge. G. S. Waters and D. Caplan's (1996) critique of this approach retained the notion of a separate working memory. In this article, the authors present an alternative accoun...
Article
M. A. Just and P. A. Carpenter's (1992) capacity theory of comprehension posits a linguistic working memory functionally separated from the representation of linguistic knowledge. G. S. Waters and D. Caplan's (1996) critique of this approach retained the notion of a separate working memory. In this article, the authors present an alternative accoun...
Article
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this paper was undertaken to investigate the role of working memory in processing dependencies of different types and different lengths by examining the effect of intervening material on AD patients' and healthy normal controls' (NCs) on-line processing of grammatical and discourse number agreement. We independently manipulated the nature of a numb...
Article
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INTRODUCTION Patients with Alzheimers Disease (AD) have substantial impairment in many cognitive domains, including language processing. The most obvious and best studied language problems in Alzheimer s patients are in production: the frequency and nature of word-finding difficulties in AD have been the subject of much research (e.g., Bayles, Tomo...
Article
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Studies of language impairments in patients with Alzheimer's disease have often assumed that impairments in linguistic working memory underlie comprehension deficits. Assessment of this hypothesis has been hindered both by vagueness of key terms such as “working memory” and by limitations of available working memory tasks, in that many such tasks e...
Article
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Four experiments examined the role of a pragmatic constraint, the modifiability of noun phrases (NPs), in the modification of complex NPs. Experiment 1 demonstrated that NPs that had received relatively specific prior modification were less likely to take additional modification than NPs with less specific modification. This effect was obtained in...
Article
This article provides an overview of a probabilistic constraints framework for thinking about language acquisition and processing. The generative approach attempts to characterize knowledge of language (i.e., competence grammar) and then asks how this knowledge is acquired and used. Our approach is performance oriented: the goal is to explain how p...
Article
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. Thornton and MacDonald (1999) tested length-based predictions by examining two-site verb phrase modification ambiguities, as in (1): This research was supported by NSF Grant SBR-9511270 to the second author. We would like to thank Wind Cowles and Mariela Gil for their assistance. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Robert Thornton, Hed...
Article
Three experiments investigated the extent to which semantic and working-memory deficits contribute to Alzheimer patients' impairments in producing and comprehending referring expressions. In Experiment 1, the spontaneous speech of 11 patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) contained a greater ratio of pronouns to full noun phrases than did the spont...
Article
tion: Mary likes swimming very slowly 5 Results Region Verb Disambiguation Long Condition -60.0 -50.0 -40.0 -30.0 -20.0 -10.0 0.0 10.0 20.0 Local Modification Distant Modification Region Verb Disambiguation Short Condition -60.0 -50.0 -40.0 -30.0 -20.0 -10.0 0.0 10.0 20.0 Local Modification Distant Modification Discussion ffl Results demonstrate th...
Article
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earlmutter, Myers, & Lotocky, 1997). ffl Thus, plausibility information may provide a more stringent task of the role of semantic factors in agreement. ffl In our study, participants got a verb followed by a preamble. We manipulated the verbs, so that the local noun was either plausible or implausible as a subject. Predictions ffl If semantic varia...