Michael Ramscar

Michael Ramscar
University of Tuebingen | EKU Tübingen

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About

120
Publications
38,286
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4,182
Citations
Citations since 2016
48 Research Items
2435 Citations
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20162017201820192020202120220100200300400
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400

Publications

Publications (120)
Preprint
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Attitudes can relate to objects on varying levels of abstraction. The present work examines whether the degrees of abstraction – and hence generalizability – of individual attitudes relate to the variability of stimulus objects at attitude acquisition. In particular, variability might enhance discriminative learning of cues, resulting in more abstr...
Preprint
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The intelligibility of speech relies on the ability of interlocutors to dynamically align their expectations about the rates at which informative changes in signals occur. Exactly how this is achieved remains an open question. We propose that speaker alignment is supported by the statistical structure of spoken signals and show how pauses offer a t...
Article
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Human language is characterized by productivity, that is, the ability to use words and structures in novel contexts. How do learners acquire these productive systems? Under a discriminative learning approach, language learning involves using cues to predict and discriminate linguistic outcomes and “generalization” involves dissociating idiosyncrati...
Article
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The uncertainty associated with paradigmatic families has been shown to correlate with their phonetic characteristics in speech, suggesting that representations of complex sublexical relations between words are part of speaker knowledge. To better understand this, recent studies have used two-layer neural network models to examine the way paradigma...
Article
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Error-driven learning algorithms, which iteratively adjust expectations based on prediction error, are the basis for a vast array of computational models in the brain and cognitive sciences that often differ widely in their precise form and application: they range from simple models in psychology and cybernetics to current complex deep learning mod...
Preprint
Full-text available
Mutual predictability is critical to human vocal communication. Speakers must synchronize their expectations about a time-variant source to distinguish meaningful signals from noise. Yet exactly how mutual predictability is established and maintained across speakers whose experience differs remains an open question. This paper examines the role of...
Article
What kind of knowledge accounts for linguistic productivity? How is it acquired? For years, debate on these questions has focused on a seemingly obscure domain: inflectional morphology. On one side, theorists inspired by Rumelhart & McClelland’s classic error-driven learning model have sought to show how all morphological forms are the products of...
Article
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How do children learn to communicate, and what do they learn? Traditionally, most theories have taken an associative, compositional approach to these questions, supposing children acquire an inventory of form-meaning associations, and procedures for composing / decomposing them; into / from messages in production and comprehension. This paper prese...
Article
Discriminative theories frame language learning as a process of reducing uncertainty about the meaning of an utterance by discriminating informative from uninformative cues via the mechanisms of prediction error and cue competition. Previous work showed that discriminative learning is affected by the order in which information is presented during l...
Article
Full-text available
Many theories of word structure in linguistics and morphological processing in cognitive psychology are grounded in a compositional perspective on the (mental) lexicon in which complex words are built up during speech production from sublexical elements such as morphemes, stems, and exponents. When combined with the hypothesis that storage in the l...
Preprint
It has been shown that a movement in a direction incongruent with the spatial semantics of words typically requires more time than movements that are directionally congruent. Two explanations have been proposed for this effect. Either a word's meaning is understood by using an internal model to simulate a word's meaning -- and incogruent directiona...
Chapter
Full-text available
The dialectical changes seen across the course of individual lives are typically thought to reflect the attritional influence of standard languages on native dialects. However, the distributional properties of natural languages, which guarantee that lexical knowledge continuously increases across the lifespan, suggest these changes might simply ref...
Article
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Children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) have significant deficits in language ability that cannot be attributed to neurological damage, hearing impairment, or intellectual disability. The symptoms displayed by children with DLD differ across languages. In English, DLD is often marked by severe difficulties acquiring verb inflection. Suc...
Article
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Theories of language and cognition develop iteratively from ideas, experiments and models. The abstract nature of “cognitive processes” means that computational models play a critical role in this, yet bridging the gaps between models, data, and interpretations is challenging. While the how and why computations are performed is often the primary re...
Article
Full-text available
Linguistic category learning has been shown to be highly sensitive to linear order, and depending on the task, differentially sensitive to the information provided by preceding category markers (premarkers, e.g., gendered articles) or succeeding category markers (postmarkers, e.g., gendered suffixes). Given that numerous systems for marking grammat...
Preprint
Error-driven learning algorithms, which iteratively adjust expectations based on prediction error, are the basis for a vast array of models in the brain and cognitive sciences that often differ widely in their precise form and application: historically, they range from simple models in psychology and cybernetics to current complex deep learning mod...
Article
Repeating the movements associated with activities such as drawing or sports typically leads to improvements in kinematic behavior: these movements become faster, smoother, and exhibit less variation. Likewise, practice has also been shown to lead to faster and smoother movement trajectories in speech articulation. However, little is known about it...
Article
Full-text available
The development of large-scale corpora has led to a quantum leap in our understanding of speech in recent years. By contrast, the analysis of massive datasets has so far had a limited impact on the study of gesture and other visual communicative behaviors. We utilized the UCLA-Red Hen Lab multi-billion-word repository of video recordings, all of th...
Article
Full-text available
Does systematic covariation in the usage patterns of forms shape the sublexical variance observed in conversational speech? We address this question in terms of a recently proposed discriminative theory of human communication that argues that the distribution of events in communicative contexts should maintain mutual predictability between language...
Preprint
The frequencies at which individual words occur across languages follow power law distributions, a pattern of findings known as Zipf's law. A vast literature argues over whether this serves to optimize the efficiency of human communication, however this claim is necessarily post hoc, and it has been suggested that Zipf's law may in fact describe mi...
Preprint
Discriminative learning models frame language learning as the process whereby prediction error reduces uncertainty about the meaning of the utterance. Previous work proposed that learning a suffixing language promoted prediction error, and thus generalization, to a greater extent than prefixing, which in turn promoted item-learning. We explored thi...
Preprint
Repeating the movements involved in activities such as drawing or sports typically leads toimprovement in kinematic behavior: associated movements become faster, smoother, and lessvariable. While practice has also been shown to lead faster and smoother movement trajectoriesin speech articulation, little is known about its effect on articulatory var...
Article
Full-text available
We present the Naive Discriminative Reading Aloud (ndra) model. The ndra differs from existing models of response times in the reading aloud task in two ways. First, a single lexical architecture is responsible for both word and non-word naming. As such, the model differs from dual-route models, which consist of both a lexical route and a sub-lexic...
Preprint
More and more studies find differences in fine phonetic detail related to the morphological function of words and segments. In the present study, we investigated to what extent these differences arise due to anticipatory coarticulation of inflectional exponents and the amount of long-term practice with individual verbs such as American English "cle...
Article
Full-text available
The field of cognitive aging has seen considerable advances in describing the linguistic and semantic changes that happen during the adult life span to uncover the structure of the mental lexicon (i.e., the mental repository of lexical and conceptual representations). Nevertheless, there is still debate concerning the sources of these changes, incl...
Preprint
Although information theoretic characterizations of human communication have become increasingly popular in linguistics, to date they have largely involved grafting probabilistic constructs onto older ideas about grammar. Similarities between human and digital communication have been strongly emphasized, and differences largely ignored. However, so...
Preprint
Full-text available
The field of cognitive aging has seen considerable advances in describing the linguistic and semantic changes that happen during the adult life span to uncover the structure of the mental lexicon (i.e., the mental repository of lexical and conceptual representations). Nevertheless, there is still debate concerning the sources of these changes, incl...
Chapter
Full-text available
The development of morphological processing has been the focal topic in a debate over the nature of language, learning and the mind in cognitive science. Particular attention has been paid to the systematic nature of children’s morphological errors (for example children tend to go through a phase of saying “mouses” as they learn English nominal mor...
Article
Full-text available
The ability of Baboons (papio papio) to distinguish between English words and nonwords has been modeled using a deep learning convolutional network model that simulates a ventral pathway in which lexical representations of different granularity develop. However, given that pigeons (columba livia), whose brain morphology is drastically different, ca...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Distributional models of semantics assume that the meaning of a given word is a function of the contexts in which it occurs. In line with this, prior research suggests that a word's semantic representation can be manipulated – pushed toward a target meaning, for example – by situating that word in distributional contexts frequented by the target. L...
Article
Full-text available
A central goal of typological research is to characterize linguistic features in terms of both their functional role and their fit to social and cognitive systems. One longstanding puzzle concerns why certain languages employ grammatical gender. In an information theoretic analysis of German noun classification, Dye et al. (2017) enumerated a numbe...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The principal aim of a cognitive model is to infer the process by which the human mind acts on some select set of environmental inputs such that it produces the observed set of behavioral outputs. In this endeavor, one of the central requirements is that the input to the model be represented as faithfully and accurately as possible. However, this i...
Article
The age-related declines observed in scores on paired-associate-learning (PAL) tests are widely taken as support for the idea that human cognitive capacities decline across the life span. In a computational simulation, we showed that the patterns of change in PAL scores are actually predicted by the models that formalize the associative learning pr...
Chapter
Full-text available
Bringing together experts from both historical linguistics and psychology, this volume addresses core factors in language change from the perspectives of both fields. It explores the potential (and limitations) of such an interdisciplinary approach, covering the following factors: frequency, salience, chunking, priming, analogy, ambiguity and acqui...
Article
Full-text available
In this study we present a novel set of discrimination-based indicators of language processing derived from Naive Discriminative Learning (ndl) theory. We compare the effectiveness of these new measures with classical lexical-distributional measures—in particular, frequency counts and form similarity measures—to predict lexical decision latencies w...
Chapter
This chapter proposes that the stable coexistence of regular and irregular patterns can be understood in terms of a trade-off between the opposing communicative pressures imposed by predictability and discriminability. On this view, irregularity is not 'defective' or 'anomalous'. Instead, irregular formations exhibit an enhanced discriminability th...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter proposes that the stable coexistence of regular and irregular patterns can be understood in terms of a trade-off between the opposing communicative pressures imposed by predictability and discriminability. On this view, irregularity is not ‘defective’ or ‘anomalous’. Instead, irregular formations exhibit an enhanced discriminability th...
Chapter
Full-text available
A central goal of typological research is to characterize linguistic features in terms of their functional role in a language. One longstanding puzzle for typologists concerns why certain languages employ grammatical gender, which assigns nouns to distinct classes. From a taxonomic perspective, gender specification can appear arbitrary, with little...
Poster
Full-text available
Presentation of the work in the second chapter of my thesis: Hendrix, P. (2016). Experimental explorations of a discrimination learning approach to language processing. Doctoral dissertation. Eberhard Karls Universität, Tübingen, Germany.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Human languages can be seen as socially evolved systems that have been structured to optimize information flow in communication. Communication appears to proceed both more efficiently and more smoothly when information is distributed evenly across the linguistic signal. In previous work (Ramscar et al., 2013), we used tools from information theory...
Article
The way individuals behave usually depends on the information available to them. This raises two questions: Where does information come from? And, what does it mean for it to 'be available'? With regards the latter question, while it is clear that stimuli can 'prime' information - allowing its availability to be manipulated - the limits of priming...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Frequency of occurrence is a strong predictor of lexical processing across modalities and experimental paradigms. However, frequency is part of a large set of collinear predictors including not only frequencies collected from different registers, but also a wide range of other lexical properties such as length, neighbourhood density, me...
Article
Full-text available
Older adults perform worse than younger adults in some complex decision-making scenarios, which is commonly attributed to age-related declines in striatal and frontostriatal processing. Recently, this popular account has been challenged by work that considered how older adults' performance may differ as a function of greater knowledge and experienc...
Chapter
Healthy aging is associated with cognitive changes that are commonly thought to reflect diminished processing power in our minds and brains. Formally, however, in the absence of functional models of cognitive processing and without controlling for the way that learning tends to result in increases in the amount of information processed by the cogni...
Article
Full-text available
Current theories of auditory comprehension assume that the segmentation of speech into word forms is an essential prerequisite to understanding. We present a computational model that does not seek to learn word forms, but instead decodes the experiences discriminated by the speech input. At the heart of this model is a discrimination learning netwo...
Article
Historically, linguists and psychologists have generally assumed that language is a combinatoric process, thereby taking the idea that language users have access to inventories of discrete, combinable units (phonemes, morphemes, words, etc.) for granted, despite the fact that these units have tended to resist formal definitions. We propose a new ap...
Poster
Full-text available
Presentation of the work later published in Ramscar, M., Sun, C. C., Hendrix, P., & Baayen, R. H. (2017). The mismeasurement of mind: Lifespan changes in paired associate test scores reflect the ‘cost’ of learning, not cognitive decline. Manuscript accepted for publication in Psychological Science.
Article
The evidence that we lose brainpower as we grow older is wrong say Michael Ramscar and Harald Baayen
Article
As adults age, their performance on many psychometric tests changes systematically, a finding that is widely taken to reveal that cognitive information-processing capacities decline across adulthood. Contrary to this, we suggest that older adults'; changing performance reflects memory search demands, which escalate as experience grows. A series of...
Article
Full-text available
As children learn their mother tongues, they make systematic errors. For example, English speaking children regularly say “mouses” rather than “mice”. Because children’s errors aren’t explicitly corrected, it has been argued that children could never learn to make the transition to adult language based on the evidence available to them, and thus th...
Article
Full-text available
Arnon and Snider ((2010). More than words: Frequency effects for multi-word phrases. Journal of Memory and Language, 62, 67–82) documented frequency effects for compositional four-grams independently of the frequencies of lower-order n-grams. They argue that comprehenders apparently store frequency information about multi-word units. We show that n...
Article
Full-text available
The question of how children learn the meanings of words has long puzzled philosophers and psychologists. As Quine famously pointed out, simply hearing a word in context reveals next to nothing about its meaning. How then do children learn to understand and use words correctly? Here, we show how learning theory can offer an elegant solution to this...
Article
Full-text available
As otherwise healthy adults age, their performance on cognitive tests tends to decline. This change is traditionally taken as evidence that cognitive processing is subject to significant declines in healthy aging. We examine this claim, showing current theories over-estimate the evidence in support of it, and demonstrating that when properly evalua...
Article
Full-text available
The world's languages tend to exhibit a suffixing preference, adding inflections to the ends of words, rather than the beginning of them. Previous works has suggested that this apparently universal preference arises out of the constraints imposed by general purpose learning mechanisms in the brain, and specifically, the kinds of information structu...
Article
Full-text available
As otherwise healthy adults age, their performance on cognitive tests tends to decline. This change is traditionally taken as evidence that cognitive processing is subject to significant declines in healthy aging. We examine this claim, showing current theories over-estimate the evidence in support of it, and demonstrating that when properly evalua...
Conference Paper
Across a range of psychometric tests, reaction times slow as adult age increases. These changes have been widely taken to show that cognitive-processing capacities decline across the lifespan. Contrary to this, we suggest that slower responses are not a sign of processing deficits, but instead reflect a growing search problem, which escalates as le...