This colloquium consists of three talks:
Trial-by-trial discrimination learning in the lexical decision task (Harald Baayen)
The impact of word prevalence on word processing efficiency: The English data (Marc Brysbaert)
The ISLA project: How bilinguals and L2 learners process idiomatic expressions (Ton Dijkstra)
Below you can find more detailed information about the presentations and the speakers.
Trial-by-trial discrimination learning in the lexical decision task
In my presentation, I will present the results of a computational modeling study addressing trial-to-trial learning in the lexical decision task. The phenomenon of speaker accomodation shows that the fine details of how we speak can change rapidly when we interact with others. Do such changes also take place when experimental subjects interact with a computer that presents them with words and non-words? To address this question, I made use of the NDL implementation of error-driven learning. In one experiment, a network was trained on a corpus, and then, without further learning, applied to the sequence of lexical decision trials. In a second experiment, a network was again trained on a corpus, but now, for each of the trials, the predictions of the network were obtained first, after which the weights of the network were adjusted, thus allowing the model to keep learning as the experiment unfolded. Statistical modeling showed that measures obtained from the second network outperformed the corresponding measures extracted from the first network. The measures from the second network also outperformed classical measures such as frequency and neighborhood density. These results show that the mental lexicon, rather than being a static repository of fixed representations, is a dynamic system that is continuously optimized as speakers interacts with their environment.
Harald Baayen currently holds the Professorship of Quantitative Linguistics at the University of Tübingen. After a Bachelor degree in Theology and a Master degree in General Linguistics obtained from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, he obtained his PhD in General Linguistics from the same university. Later, he moved to the Max-Planck-Institut für Psycholinguistik in Nijmegen, where he became professor of Quantitative Linguistics. He moved to the University of Alberta, Edmonton, in 2007, where he held the professorship of Quantitative Linguistics until 2011, when he finally moved to Tübingen. In 2011 he received the Alexander von Humboldt research award from the Humboldt Foundation and, since 2012, he is an elected member of the Academia Europea.
Prof. Baayen is a member of the editorial board of several prominent journals in linguistics and psycholinguistics. He contributed to the development of resources that are used worldwide like the CELEX database. He introduced new statistical techniques that have become the state-of-the-art in psycholinguistics such as Mixed-Effects Models and Generalised Additive Mixed Models. Moreover, he developed computational models that are contributing to our understanding of language processing and acquisition, such as Naïve Discriminative Learning. He is the author of one of the most used books about quantitative analysis of linguistic data using R and of dozens of papers on the leading journals in linguistics, psycholinguistics and cognitive science.
The impact of word prevalence on word processing efficiency: The English data
Brysbaert et al. (2016) showed that word prevalence is a good predictor of word processing times in the Dutch language. It is defined as the percentage of people who know a word. Word prevalence explains 7% of lexical decision times, after the effects of word frequency, age-of-acquisition, word length, and similarity to other words are taken into account. In this talk, I will present both the Dutch and the English word prevalence norms and discuss their contribution to accounting for the variance of lexical decision and naming times in lexicon projects. I also discuss the reasons why word prevalence is an important variable to be taken into account in future studies.
Marc Brysbaert is full professor at the Department of Experimental Psychology of Ghent University. He got his Master degree and his PhD in psychology at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. He stayed at the KU Leuven as a post-doc before moving for a first time to Ghent University where he stayed until 2001. He then worked at the Royal Holloway, University of London and finally moved back to Ghent in 2008 where he still conducts his research activities.
During his career, Prof. Brysbaert has received several prestigious awards. He is also a member of many prestigious professional bodies, including the Experimental Psychology Society, the Psychonomic Society, and the Association for Psychological Science. He has been editor for the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology and associate editor of many leading journals in the fields of experimental psychology, psycholinguistics and cognitive science. He authored countless papers published in the leading journals of the field and his pioneering work on mega studies in psycholinguistics has paved the way to the use of big data in psycholinguistics.
The ISLA project: How bilinguals and L2 learners process idiomatic expressions
One summer day, the Netherlands were suffering very hot weather with increasing risks of thunder. This inspired the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant to the headline ‘Onweersbuien zetten hittegolf op de tocht’ (‘Thunder storms jeopardize heat wave’). While the Dutch newspaper title is clear to natives, it poses serious difficulties to L2 learners of Dutch who are not familiar with the expression “op de tocht zetten” (‘to put in a draught’ = to jeopardize), because its meaning cannot be inferred from the composing words (although context may help). Second Language (L2) learners have even more difficulties in actively using such expressions in language production. Because of its opacity and multifaceted complexity, idiomatic language is much harder to acquire and master for L2 learners than individual words.
In the Idiomatic Second Language (ISLA) project, we investigate how learners acquire, comprehend, and use such formulaic language in their L2. In the talk, I will present an up-to-date overview of the project, and zoom in on several RT and EEG studies on the bilingual processing and representation of idiomatic expressions. By analyzing the contribution of various dimensions (task, context, frequency, transparency, ...) to the results, these empirical studies help in solving the larger puzzle of bilingual sentence processing by hooking together as constituent pieces.
Ton Dijkstra is full professor in Psycholinguistics and Multilingualism at the Faculty of Arts of the Radboud University and at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Donders Institute in Nijmegen. He got his Bachelor degree in psychology at the University of Tilburg and his Master degree in the same subject in Nijmegen, where he also completed his PhD. He continued his research in Nijmegen, becoming associate professor in 2001 and then full professor in 2007. Over the years, his teaching activity has covered a broad range of topics including experimental psychology, computational psycholinguistics, cognitive science, research design, language acquisition, and multilingualism.
Prof. Dijkstra is best known for his work on computational modeling of bilingual word recognition and in particular for the Bilingual Interactive Activation (BIA) model and its extension, the BIA+. His research focuses on word translation in bilinguals, combining behavioral experiments, computational modeling, and imaging studies, and on second language acquisition. His work has appeared in over a hundred journal articles published in some of the most prestigious venues in linguistics, psycholinguistics, and cognitive science.