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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Feature encoding modulates cue-based retrieval: Modeling interference effects in both grammatical and ungrammatical sentences

  • Author(s): Yadav, Himanshu;
  • Smith, Garrett;
  • Vasishth, Shravan
  • et al.

Studies on similarity-based interference in subject-verb number agreement dependencies have found a consistent facilitatory effect in ungrammatical sentences but no conclusive effect in grammatical sentences. Existing models propose that interference is caused either by a faulty representation of the input (encoding-based models) or by difficulty in retrieving the subject based on cues at the verb (retrieval-based models). Neither class of model captures the observed patterns in human reading time data. We propose a new model that integrates a feature encoding mechanism into an existing cue-based retrieval model. Our model outperforms the cue-based retrieval model in explaining interference effect data from both grammatical and ungrammatical sentences. These modeling results yield a new insight into sentence processing, encoding modulates retrieval. Nouns stored in memory undergo feature distortion, which in turn affects how retrieval unfolds during dependency completion.

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