The lexical boost effect is not diagnostic of lexically-specific syntactic representations

Scheepers, C. , Raffray, C. and Myachykov, A. (2017) The lexical boost effect is not diagnostic of lexically-specific syntactic representations. Journal of Memory and Language, 95, pp. 102-115. (doi: 10.1016/j.jml.2017.03.001)

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Structural priming implies that speakers/listeners unknowingly re-use syntactic structure over subsequent utterances. Previous research found that structural priming is reliably enhanced when lexical content is repeated (lexical boost effect). A widely held assumption is that structure-licensing heads enjoy a privileged role in lexically boosting structural priming. The present comprehension-to-production priming experiments investigated whether head-constituents (verbs) versus non-head constituents (argument nouns) contribute differently to boosting ditransitive structure priming in English. Experiment 1 showed that lexical boosts from repeated agent or recipient nouns (and to a lesser extent, repeated theme nouns) were comparable to those from repeated verbs. Experiments 2 and 3 found that increasing numbers of content words shared between primes and targets led to increasing magnitudes of structural priming (again, with no ‘special’ contribution of verb-repetition). We conclude that lexical boost effects are not diagnostic of lexically-specific syntactic representations, even though such representations are supported by other types of evidence.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Scheepers, Dr Christoph and Raffray, Dr Claudine and Myachykov, Dr Andriy
Authors: Scheepers, C., Raffray, C., and Myachykov, A.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:Journal of Memory and Language
ISSN (Online):1096-0821
Published Online:17 March 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Crown Copyright
First Published:First published in Journal of Memory and Language 95: 102-115
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
453181Lexical overlap and syntactic priming in sentence productionChristoph ScheepersEconomic & Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/E024955/1RI NEUROSCIENCE & PSYCHOLOGY