Shravan Vasishth's research while affiliated with Universität Potsdam and other places

Publications (313)

Article
In sentence comprehension, what are the cognitive constraints that determine number agreement computation? Two broad classes of theoretical proposals are: (i) Representation distortion accounts, which assume that the number feature on the subject noun gets overwritten probabilistically by the number feature on a non-subject noun, leading to a non-v...
Article
Full-text available
Intuitively, strongly constraining contexts should lead to stronger probabilistic representations of sentences in memory. Encountering unexpected words could therefore be expected to trigger costlier shifts in these representations than expected words. However, psycholinguistic measures commonly used to study probabilistic processing, such as the N...
Article
Resource limitation has often been invoked as a key driver of sentence comprehension difficulty, in both theories of language-unimpaired and language-impaired populations. In the field of aphasia, one such influential theory is Caplan’s resource reduction hypothesis (RRH). In this large investigation of online processing in aphasia in German, we ev...
Article
Full-text available
Rereading during sentence processing can be confirmatory, in which case it serves to increase readers' certainty in their current interpretation, or it can be revisionary, in which case it serves to correct a misinterpretation (Christianson, Luke, Hussey, & Wochna, 2017). The distinction is particularly relevant in garden-path sentences, which have...
Preprint
Full-text available
van Doorn et al. (2021) outlined various questions that arise when conducting Bayesian model comparison for mixed effects models. Seven response articles offered their own perspective on the preferred setup for mixed model comparison, on the most appropriate specification of prior distributions, and on the desirability of default recommendations. T...
Article
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In this paper we examine the effect of uncertainty on readers’ predictions about meaning. In particular, we were interested in how uncertainty might influence the likelihood of committing to a specific sentence meaning. We conducted two event-related potential (ERP) experiments using particle verbs such as turn down and manipulated uncertainty by c...
Preprint
Strongly constraining contexts should lead to stronger probabilistic representations. If so, unexpected words in strongly constraining contexts should trigger costlier shifts in the representation than expected words. However, psycholinguistic measures commonly used to study probabilistic processing, such as the N400 event-related potential (ERP) c...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper we examine the effect of uncertainty on readers’ predictions about meaning. In particular, we were interested in how uncertainty might influence the likelihood of committing to a specific sentence meaning. We conducted two event-related potential (ERP) experiments using particle verbs such as turn down and manipulated uncertainty by c...
Article
What is the processing cost of being garden‐pathed by a temporary syntactic ambiguity? We argue that comparing average reading times in garden‐path versus non‐garden‐path sentences is not enough to answer this question. Trial‐level contaminants such as inattention, the fact that garden pathing may occur non‐deterministically in the ambiguous condit...
Article
In 2019 the Journal of Memory and Language instituted an open data and code policy; this policy requires that, as a rule, code and data be released at the latest upon publication. How effective is this policy? We compared 59 papers published before, and 59 papers published after, the policy took effect. After the policy was in place, the rate of da...
Article
In the picture-word interference paradigm, participants name pictures while ignoring a written or spoken distractor word. Naming times to the pictures are slowed down by the presence of the distractor word. The present study investigates in detail the impact of distractor and target word properties on picture naming times, building on the seminal s...
Article
Full-text available
When researchers carry out a null hypothesis significance test, it is tempting to assume that a statistically significant result lowers Prob(H0), the probability of the null hypothesis being true. Technically, such a statement is meaningless for various reasons: e.g., the null hypothesis does not have a probability associated with it. However, it i...
Article
Full-text available
Cue-based retrieval theories of sentence processing assume that syntactic dependencies are resolved through a content-addressable search process. An important recent claim is that in certain dependency types, the retrieval cues are weighted such that one cue dominates. This cue-weighting proposal aims to explain the observed average behavior, but h...
Preprint
Existing corpus-based measures of morphological productivity all exhibit problematic dependences on sample size. Here, we show that another measure, the Shannon entropy of a type frequency distribution, has a different relationship with sample size, one that allows meaningful analysis in a wider range of circumstances. Once the sample gets large en...
Preprint
In sentence comprehension, what are the cognitive constraints that determine number agreement? Two broad classes of theoretical proposals are: (i) Representation distortion accounts, which assume that the number feature on the subject noun gets overwritten probabilistically by the number feature on a non-subject noun, leading to a non-veridical mem...
Article
Inferences about hypotheses are ubiquitous in the cognitive sciences. Bayes factors provide one general way to compare different hypotheses by their compatibility with the observed data. Those quantifications can then also be used to choose between hypotheses. While Bayes factors provide an immediate approach to hypothesis testing, they are highly...
Preprint
Resource limitation has often been invoked as a key driver of sentence comprehension difficulty, in both theories of language-unimpaired and language-impaired populations. In the field of aphasia, one such influential theory is Caplan’s resource reduction hypothesis (RRH). In this investigation of online processing in German, we evaluated three key...
Article
Full-text available
We discuss an important issue that is not directly related to the main theses of the van Doorn et al. ( Computational Brain and Behavior , 2021) paper, but which frequently comes up when using Bayesian linear mixed models: how to determine sample size in advance of running a study when planning a Bayes factor analysis. We adapt a simulation-based m...
Preprint
Full-text available
Bayesian linear mixed-effects models are increasingly being used in the cognitive sciences to perform null hypothesis tests, where a null hypothesis that an effect is zero is compared with an alternative hypothesis that the effect exists and is different from zero. While software tools for Bayes factor null hypothesis tests are easily accessible, h...
Preprint
What is the processing cost of being garden-pathed by a temporary syntactic ambiguity? We argue that comparing average reading times in garden-path versus non-garden-path sentences is not enough to answer this question. Trial-level contaminants such as inattention, the fact that garden-pathing may occur non-deterministically in the ambiguous condit...
Preprint
A long-standing debate in the sentence processing literature concerns the time course of syntactic and semantic information in online sentence comprehension. The default assumption in cue-based models of parsing is that syntactic and semantic retrieval cues simultaneously guide dependency resolution. When retrieval cues match multiple items in memo...
Preprint
Sentence comprehension requires the listener to link incoming words with short-term memory representations in order to build linguistic dependencies. The cue-based retrieval theory of sentence processing predicts that the retrieval of these memory representations is affected by similarity-based interference. We present the first large-scale computa...
Article
Dynamical models make specific assumptions about cognitive processes that generate human behavior. In data assimilation, these models are tested against time-ordered data. Recent progress on Bayesian data assimilation demonstrates that this approach combines the strengths of statistical modeling of individual differences with the those of dynamical...
Article
An important aspect of aphasia is the observation of behavioral variability between and within individual participants. Our study addresses variability in sentence comprehension in German, by testing 21 individuals with aphasia and a control group and involving (a) several constructions (declarative sentences, relative clauses and control structure...
Book
Sentence comprehension - the way we process and understand spoken and written language - is a central and important area of research within psycholinguistics. This book explores the contribution of computational linguistics to the field, showing how computational models of sentence processing can help scientists in their investigation of human cogn...
Preprint
In two web-based experiments, we evaluated the bidirectional self-paced reading (BSPR) paradigm recently proposed by Paape and Vasishth (2021). We used four sentence types: NP/Z garden-path sentences, RRC garden-path sentences, sentences containing inconsistent discourse continuations, and sentences containing reflexive anaphors with feature-matchi...
Article
Reviews the role of working memory in theories of sentence comprehension, and reviews current theoretical positions in sentence processing. The chapter also identifies several gaps in current research: the relative scarcity of computational models, an excessive focus on average behavior, the absence of properly powered studies, and unclear criteria...
Article
Sentence comprehension - the way we process and understand spoken and written language - is a central and important area of research within psycholinguistics. This book explores the contribution of computational linguistics to the field, showing how computational models of sentence processing can help scientists in their investigation of human cogn...
Article
Sentence comprehension - the way we process and understand spoken and written language - is a central and important area of research within psycholinguistics. This book explores the contribution of computational linguistics to the field, showing how computational models of sentence processing can help scientists in their investigation of human cogn...
Article
Sentence comprehension - the way we process and understand spoken and written language - is a central and important area of research within psycholinguistics. This book explores the contribution of computational linguistics to the field, showing how computational models of sentence processing can help scientists in their investigation of human cogn...
Article
Sentence comprehension - the way we process and understand spoken and written language - is a central and important area of research within psycholinguistics. This book explores the contribution of computational linguistics to the field, showing how computational models of sentence processing can help scientists in their investigation of human cogn...
Article
Sentence comprehension - the way we process and understand spoken and written language - is a central and important area of research within psycholinguistics. This book explores the contribution of computational linguistics to the field, showing how computational models of sentence processing can help scientists in their investigation of human cogn...
Article
Sentence comprehension - the way we process and understand spoken and written language - is a central and important area of research within psycholinguistics. This book explores the contribution of computational linguistics to the field, showing how computational models of sentence processing can help scientists in their investigation of human cogn...
Article
Sentence comprehension - the way we process and understand spoken and written language - is a central and important area of research within psycholinguistics. This book explores the contribution of computational linguistics to the field, showing how computational models of sentence processing can help scientists in their investigation of human cogn...
Article
This chapter investigates whether sentence comprehension difficulty in aphasia can be explained in terms of retrieval processes. By modelling individuals with aphasia (IWAs) separately, we show that different IWAs show impairments along different dimensions: slowed processing, intermittent deficiency, and resource reduction. The parameters in the c...
Article
This chapter presents a model comparison between two competing models of retrieval processes: the cue-based retrieval model presented in this book and the direct-access model. The two models are implemented in a Bayesian framework, and then model comparison is carried out using k-fold cross-validation. The benchmark data used for evaluation are fro...
Article
This final chapter discusses future directions that need to be pursued: we need common benchmark data-sets for model evaluation; larger-sample, properly powered studies that deliver accurate estimates of effects; and comprehensive model comparisons using a common benchmark data-set. A further gap in the literature is the need to understand the prod...
Preprint
In 2019 the Journal of Memory and Language instituted an open data and code policy; this policy requires that, as a rule, code and data be released at the latest upon publication. Does this policy lead to reproducible results? We looked at whether 57 papers published between 2019 and 2021 were reproducible, in the sense that the published summary s...
Article
Full-text available
The use of statistical inference in linguistics and related areas like psychology typically involves a binary decision: either reject or accept some null hypothesis using statistical significance testing. When statistical power is low, this frequentist data-analytic approach breaks down: null results are uninformative, and effect size estimates ass...
Preprint
Although Bayesian data analysis has the great advantage that one need not specify the sample size in advance of running an experiment, there are nevertheless situations where it becomes necessary to have at least an initial ballpark estimate for a target sample size. An example where this becomes necessary is grant applications. In this paper, we a...
Preprint
We present a new software toolkit for implementing a broad class oftheories of sentence processing. In this framework, processing a word ina sentence is viewed as a continuous-time random walk through a set ofdiscrete states that encode information about the emerging structure of thesentence so far. The state space includes one or more special abso...
Article
Full-text available
We present computational modeling results based on a self‐paced reading study investigating number attraction effects in Eastern Armenian. We implement three novel computational models of agreement attraction in a Bayesian framework and compare their predictive fit to the data using k‐fold cross‐validation. We find that our data are better accounte...
Preprint
Language comprehension requires readers to track relationships between words, such as between the verb and particle "turn down". In German, "turn" and "down" may be separated by large amounts of material, delaying full interpretation of the verb. Readers may therefore predict the particle. However, evidence for lexical predictions often concerns on...
Article
Full-text available
Local coherence effects arise when the human sentence processor is temporarily misled by a locally grammatical but globally ungrammatical analysis (The coach smiled at the player tossed a frisbee by the opposing team). It has been suggested that such effects occur either because sentence processing occurs in a bottom-up, self-organized manner rathe...
Article
Full-text available
Previous research has found that comprehenders sometimes predict information that is grammatically unlicensed by sentence constraints. An open question is why such grammatically unlicensed predictions occur. We examined the possibility that unlicensed predictions arise in situations of information conflict, for instance when comprehenders try to pr...
Article
Full-text available
In eye-movement control during reading, advanced process-oriented models have been developed to reproduce behavioral data. So far, model complexity and large numbers of model parameters prevented rigorous statistical inference and modeling of interindividual differences. Here we propose a Bayesian approach to both problems for one representative co...
Preprint
The similarity-based interference paradigm has been widely used to investigate the factors subserving subject-verb agreement processing. A consistent finding is facilitatory interference effects in ungrammatical sentences but inconclusive results in grammatical sentences. Existing models propose that interference is caused either by misrepresentati...
Preprint
Several researchers have argued that sentence comprehension is mediated via a content addressable retrieval mechanism that allows fast and direct access to memory items. Initially failed retrievals can result in backtracking, which leads to correct retrieval. We present an augmented version of the direct access model that allows backtracking to fai...
Preprint
Local coherence effects arise when the human sentence processor is temporarily misled by a locally grammatical but globally ungrammatical analysis ("The coach smiled at THE PLAYER TOSSED A FRISBEE by the opposing team"). It has been suggested that such effects occur either because sentence processing occurs in a bottom-up, self-organized manner rat...
Preprint
Cue-based retrieval theories of sentence processing assume that syntactic dependencies are resolved through a content-addressable search process. An important recent claim is that in certain dependency types, the retrieval cues are weighted such that one cue dominates. This cue-weighting proposal aims to explain the observed average behavior, but h...
Article
Full-text available
Can sentence comprehension impairments in aphasia be explained by difficulties arising from dependency completion processes in parsing? Two distinct models of dependency completion difficulty are investigated, the Lewis and Vasishth (2005) activation‐based model and the direct‐access model (DA; McElree, 2000). These models' predictive performance i...
Article
Full-text available
Preregistration is an open science practice that requires the specification of research hypotheses and analysis plans before the data are inspected. Here, we discuss the benefits of preregistration for hypothesis-driven, confirmatory bilingualism research. Using examples from psycholinguistics and bilingualism, we illustrate how non-peer reviewed p...
Preprint
Full-text available
Inferences about hypotheses are ubiquitous in the cognitive sciences. Bayes factors provide one general way to compare different hypotheses by their compatibility with the observed data. Those quantifications can then also be used to choose between hypotheses. While Bayes factors provide an immediate approach to hypothesis testing, they are highly...
Preprint
The selective reanalysis hypothesis of Frazier and Rayner (1982) states that readers direct their eyes towards critical words in the sentence when faced with garden-path structures (e.g., Since Jay always jogs a mile seems like a short distance to him). Given the mixed evidence for this proposal in the literature, we investigated the possibility th...
Preprint
Studies of the speed-accuracy trade-off (SAT) have been influential in arguing for the direct-access model of retrieval in sentence processing. The direct-access model assumes that long-distance dependencies (like subject-verb agreement) rely on a content-addressable search for the correct representation in memory. In this paper, we address two imp...
Preprint
Studies on similarity-based interference in subject-verb agreement dependencies have found a consistent facilitatory effect in ungrammatical sentences but no conclusive effect in grammatical sentences. Existing models propose that interference is caused either by a faulty representation of the input (encoding-based models) or by difficulty in retri...
Preprint
Previous research has found that comprehenders sometimes predict information that is grammatically unlicensed by sentence constraints. An open question is why such grammatically unlicensed predictions occur. We examined the possibility that unlicensed predictions arise in situations of information conflict, for instance when comprehenders try to pr...
Preprint
Full-text available
Integrating eye-movement control and sentence processing would mark an important step forward for mathematical models of natural language processing. We present an integrated approach by combining the SWIFT model of eye-movement control (Engbert et al., 2005) with key components of the LV05 (Lewis & Vasishth, 2005) parser. The integrated generative...
Article
Full-text available
To make sense of a sentence, a reader must keep track of dependent relationships between words, such as between a verb and its particle (e.g. turn the music down ). In languages such as German, verb-particle dependencies often span long distances, with the particle only appearing at the end of the clause. This means that it may be necessary to proc...
Article
Full-text available
Among theories of human language comprehension, cue‐based memory retrieval has proven to be a useful framework for understanding when and how processing difficulty arises in the resolution of long‐distance dependencies. Most previous work in this area has assumed that very general retrieval cues like [+subject] or [+singular] do the work of identif...
Article
Full-text available
So-called “depth charge” sentences (No head injury is too trivial to be ignored) are interpreted by the vast majority of speakers to mean the opposite of what their compositional semantics would dictate. The semantic inversion that is observed for sentences of this type is the strongest and most persistent linguistic illusion known to the field ( W...
Article
Full-text available
When participants in an experiment have to name pictures while ignoring distractor words superimposed on the picture or presented auditorily (i.e., picture-word interference paradigm), they take more time when the word to be named (or target) and distractor words are from the same semantic category (e.g., cat-dog). This experimental effect is known...
Preprint
An important property of aphasia is the variability in the performance between and within individual patients. However, there have been only a few systematic large-scale studies in a range of syntactic constructions and tasks that make it possible to investigate variability and to evaluate the quantitative predictions of competing models of sentenc...
Preprint
In the picture-word interference paradigm, participants name pictures while ignoring a written or spoken distractor word. Naming times to the pictures are slowed down by the presence of the distractor word. Various properties of the distractor modulate this slow down, for example naming times are shorter with frequent vs. infrequent distractors. Bu...
Preprint
We present a self-paced reading study investigating attraction effects on number agreement in Eastern Armenian. Both word-by-word reading times and open-ended responses to sentence-final comprehension questions were collected, allowing us to relate reading times and sentence interpretations on a trial-by-trial basis. Results indicate that readers s...
Article
Full-text available
Experiments in research on memory, language, and in other areas of cognitive science are increasingly being analyzed using Bayesian methods. This has been facilitated by the development of probabilistic programming languages such as Stan, and easily accessible front-end packages such as brms. The utility of Bayesian methods, however, ultimately dep...
Article
Full-text available
Previous studies have suggested that distinctive case marking on noun phrases reduces attraction effects in production, i.e., the tendency to produce a verb that agrees with a nonsubject noun. An important open question is whether attraction effects are modulated by case information in sentence comprehension. To address this question, we conducted...
Preprint
Cue-based parsing theories posit that dependency resolution during real-time sentence comprehension relies on cue-based retrieval of linguistic items encoded in memory. This retrieval mechanism is prone to similarity-based interference, which can occur when there are items in memory that are similar to the retrieval target. Interference during sent...
Preprint
Can sentence comprehension impairments in aphasia be explained by difficulties arising from dependency completion processes in parsing? Two distinct models of dependency completion difficulty are investigated, the Lewis & Vasishth (2005) activation-based model, and the direct-access model (McElree, 2000). We compare these models’ predictive perform...
Preprint
Full-text available
When participants in an experiment have to name pictures while ignoring distractor words superimposed on the picture or presented auditorily (i.e., picture-word interference paradigm), they take more time when the word to be named (or target) and distractor words are from the same semantic category (e.g., cat-dog). This experimental effect is known...
Article
Full-text available
Cue-based retrieval theories in sentence processing predict two classes of interference effect: (i) Inhibitory interference is predicted when multiple items match a retrieval cue: cue-overloading leads to an overall slowdown in reading time; and (ii) Facilitatory interference arises when a retrieval target as well as a distractor only partially mat...
Article
Full-text available
Several studies (e.g., Wicha et al., 2003; DeLong et al., 2005) have shown that readers use information from the sentential context to predict nouns (or some of their features), and that predictability effects can be inferred from the EEG signal in determiners or adjectives appearing before the predicted noun. While these findings provide evidence...
Article
Full-text available
A commonly used approach to parameter estimation in computational models is the so-called grid search procedure: the entire parameter space is searched in small steps to determine the parameter value that provides the best fit to the observed data. This approach has several disadvantages: first, it can be computationally very expensive; second, one...
Preprint
Preregistration is an open science practice that focuses on statistically testing hypotheses specified before the data are inspected (hypothesis- driven, confirmatory research). Here, we discuss the benefits of preregis- tration for bilingualism research. Using a psycholinguistic example, we illustrate how preregistration serves to implement a clea...
Article
Full-text available
Factorial experiments in research on memory, language, and in other areas are often analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA). However, for effects with more than one numerator degrees of freedom, e.g., for experi- mental factors with more than two levels, the ANOVA omnibus F-test is not informative about the source of a main effect or interactio...
Preprint
Full-text available
The hypr package in R provides the researcher with a straightforward interface to generate contrast matrices from research hypotheses and the reverse. It can be used to derive contrast matrices for custom research hypotheses and as an instructional tool to understand what research hypotheses a given contrast matrix tests. We previously reviewed the...
Preprint
To make sense of a sentence, the human reader must keep track of dependent relationships between words, such as between a noun and a verb. Increasing the distance between such dependent elements may facilitate reading as expectation builds about the position and identity of the distant word; otherwise known as the antilocality effect. On the other...
Preprint
Among theories of human language comprehension, cue-based memory retrieval has proven to be a useful framework for understanding when and how processing difficulty arises in the resolution of long-distance dependencies. Most previous work in this area has assumed that very general retrieval cues like [+subject] or [+singular] do the work of identif...
Preprint
Full-text available
In eye-movement control during reading, advanced process-oriented models have been developed to reproduce behavioral data. So far, model complexity and numbers of model parameter prevented (i) rigorous statistical inference and (ii) modeling of interindividual differences. Here, we propose a Bayesian approach to both problems for one representative...
Article
Full-text available
We present a comprehensive empirical evaluation of the ACT‐R–based model of sentence processing developed by Lewis and Vasishth (2005) (LV05). The predictions of the model are compared with the results of a recent meta‐analysis of published reading studies on retrieval interference in reflexive‐/reciprocal‐antecedent and subject–verb dependencies (...
Preprint
Data analysis in linguistics and related areas like psychology typically involves a binary decision: either reject or accept the null hypothesis. This frequentist data-analytic approach has not only been widely misused, but also does not lead to any decisive conclusions, particularly when statistical power is low. Using an example from psycholingui...
Article
Sentence comprehension requires that the comprehender work out who did what to whom. This process has been characterized as retrieval from memory. This review summarizes the quantitative predictions and empirical coverage of the two existing computational models of retrieval and shows how the predictive performance of these two competing models can...
Poster
Full-text available
A commonly observed statistical fallacy, even in high-profile publications, is the following: An experimental study is conducted in which two factors with two or more levels each are manipulated. The effect of one of the factors (Factor 1) is tested for within each level of the other factor (Factor 2). If one of the nested tests shows a significant...
Preprint
Sentence comprehension requires that the comprehender work out who did what to whom. This process has been characterized as retrieval from memory. We review the quantitative predictions and empirical coverage of computational implementations of retrieval models. Four directions are identified for future work: competing computational models should b...