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J Mem Lang. 2009 Apr 1;60(3):368-392.

Making simple sentences hard: Verb bias effects in simple direct object sentences.

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Department of Psychology and The Beckman Institute of Science and Technology, 603 E. Daniel St. Champaign, IL 61820.


Constraint-based lexical models of language processing assume that readers resolve temporary ambiguities by relying on a variety of cues, including particular knowledge of how verbs combine with nouns. Previous experiments have demonstrated verb bias effects only in structurally complex sentences, and have been criticized on the grounds that such effects could be due to a rapid reanalysis stage in a two-stage modular processing system. In a self-paced reading experiment and an eyetracking experiment, we demonstrate verb bias effects in sentences with simple structures that should require no reanalyis, and thus provide evidence that the combinatorial properties of individual words influence the earliest stages of sentence comprehension.

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