Identification of Neural Mechanisms in Ambiguity Resolotion of Pronominal Anaphor in Persian Language

Document Type : Research Paper

Authors

1 M.A.in General Linguistics, University of Tehran

2 Professor of Linguistics University of Tehran

3 Assistant Professor, Speech Therapy, School of Rehabilitation, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran

Abstract

This article is an EEG/ERP study based on psycholinguistic models of reference resolution to study the discourse comprehension and coherent contexts through co-referencing between an anaphor and its antecedent in the same spoken context. How brain is able to establish reference between an anaphor and potential antecedents in discourse has become of great interest. Based on Informational Load Hypothesis by Almor (1999), an auditory task using participants with no neurological or medical disorder was designed to compare coreference resolution of a referential pronoun and its acceptable antecedent in two-sentence discourse context. Based on this theory, and considering the morpho-syntactic limitations of Persian language for processing the information comes from the pronominal anaphor, discourse function and processing cost of reference resolution analysis was examined by situations such as ambiguity in referring expressions. Research method in this study is based on psycholinguistic experimental model which indicates the sub-processes of brain functions responding to co-reference resolution. The model used in this research represents the balance between discourse function and processing costs of reference resolution between referential coherence and referential ambiguity conditions. The ERP components shown in this project indicate that the processing of anaphor resolution in different situations imposes different processing cost on working memory. The two components Nref and Left Anterior Negativity (LAN) in frontal lobe were elicited during referential ambiguity of the pronominal anaphor (third person) which has no gender feature. Nref is a sustained referential negativity which indicates the ambiguity of the referring anaphor. (LAN) in previous researches has shown the increasing activity of working memory. This result which is incompatible with previous studies, has indicated that lower salience of the antecedent can cause higher processing cost for the working memory in order to establish a cross-reference bridge between the new information and the already existing representations of antecedent.

Keywords


Almor, A.  1999. Noun-phrase anaphora and focus: the informational load hypothesis. Psychological Review, 106.  748-765.
Almor, A., V.A. Nair, T.W. Boiteau, & J.M.C. Vendemia. 2017. The N400 in processing repeated name and pronoun anaphors in sentences and discourse. Brain & Language, 173. 52-66.
Coulson, S., King, J. W., & M. Kutas. 1998. Expect the unexpected: Event related brain response to morphosyntactic violations. Language and Cognitive Processes,  13, 21–58.
Gordon, P.C., & R. Hendrick. 1998. The representation and processing of coreference in discourse. Cognitive Science, 22. 389-424.
Grice, H. P. 1975. Logic and conversation,  41-58.
Halliday, M.A.K., & R. Hasan. 1976. Cohesion in English. Longman.           
Huang, Y. 2007. Pragmatics, Oxford textbooks in linguistics. 9, 77956.
Ledoux, K., &, C.C. Camblin. 2008. The neural mechanisms of coreference. Language and Linguistics Compass,  2. 1013-1037.
Luck, S.J. 2014. An Introduction to the Event-Related Potential Technique, 2 nd Edition. MIT Press.
Lyons, J. 1977. Semantics, Cambridge University Press.
Nieuwland, M.S., & J.J.A. Van Berkum. 2006. Individual differences and contextual bias in pronoun resolution: evidence from ERPs. Brain Research,1118. 155-167.
Pashasharifi, H., & N. Sharifi. 2004. Research Methods in Social Science. Sokhan Press, fourth edition.
Van Berkum, J.J.A., C.M. Brown, & P. Hagoort. 1999. Early referential context  effects in sentence processing: evidence from event-related brain potentials. Journal of Memory & Language, 41. 147-182. Nieuwland, M.S., & J.J.A. Van Berkum. 2006. Individual differences and contextual bias in pronoun resolution: evidence from ERPs. Brain Research,1118. 155-167.
Van Berkum, J.J.A., C.M. Brown, & P. Hagoort. 1999. Early referential context  effects in sentence processing: evidence from event-related brain potentials. Journal of Memory & Language, 41. 147-182.
Volume 10, Issue 2
March 2020
Pages 153-170
  • Receive Date: 24 July 2019
  • Revise Date: 09 November 2019
  • Accept Date: 30 December 2019
  • First Publish Date: 20 February 2020