Cognitive Neuroscience Talks

In search for the referent: How eye tracking and electrophysiological measurements may reveal the role of different discourse constructional factors in anaphor resolution.

The interpretation of natural discourse is a complex, dynamic process that evolves in time with amazing speed and efficiency. It crucially depends on context coherence, as well as on cognitive functions such as working memory capacity of the reader. In this talk I will present new research plans to address the resolution of anaphoric expressions (i.e., anaphoric noun phrases such as the book, the purchase that refer to a prior mention of the concept in text) in linear discourse or hypertext. Anaphoric expressions can only be fully interpreted if they are linked to entities introduced elsewhere in the discourse. They form cohesive links between sentences and sentence fragments, which makes anaphor resolution indispensable for discourse comprehension. Therefore, anaphor resolution has been the focus of attention in a large number of psycholinguistic studies, mostly addressing the comprehension of printed text. I will first introduce five discourse constructional factors that are known to be relevant for linear discourse coherency (the presence of multiple possible referents in the discourse; the distance between the anaphoric expressions and the referents; the amount of elaboration of possible referents; the form of the elaboration; and the similarity in semantic category). Then, I would like to discuss the set up of a new line of studies and receive comments and feedback. This new line of studies extends beyond previous research as it addresses the exact influence of these discourse constructional factors in the comprehension of linear text and hypertext using tracking eye movements while reading and the registration of event related brain potentials.