Introduction to Psycholinguistics

Matt Traxler – University of California, Davis
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 9:00-10:50 am
1401 Mason Hall

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Language scientists attempt to answer three fundamental questions:  1. What does one know when one knows a language?  2. How does an individual access and use that knowledge when producing or understanding language?  3. How did we get this way?  This course will focus on the first two of these three questions.  Students will gain an appreciation for the kinds of theories that language scientists have developed to answer these questions as well as the research methods used to investigate them.  The course will focus chiefly on comprehension issues, but we will also examine contemporary theories of speech production, such as Levelt and Roelof’s Weaver ++ and Dell’s interactive account.

Students will review contemporary accounts of lexical, syntactic, and discourse processing.  This review includes both accounts of normal language function but also the sequelae of brain damage and other forms of language dysfunction. Topics relating to lexical processing include theories of semantic representation, lexical access, and the neural basis of lexical representation and processing. Topics relating to syntactic processing include accounts of syntactic parsing, serial versus parallel processing approaches, and processing of unbounded dependencies. Topics relating to discourse processing include contemporary accounts of discourse representation, inferencing, and the neural basis of discourse processing and representations.


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