How do we comprehend new sentence structuresJune 7th, 2011 - 3:59 pm ICT by IANS
London, June 7 (IANS) We cannot possibly anticipate or memorize every potential word, phrase, or sentence. Yet we have no trouble constructing and understanding the myriads of novel utterances every day.
How do we do it? Linguists say we naturally and unconsciously employ abstract rules-syntax, says a new study from Glasgow University.
The study made use of a cognitive process called structural priming. Simply put, if you use a certain kind of structure in one sentence, you’re likely to use it again in a subsequent sentence.
“The structure of a maths equation correctly solved is preserved in memory and determines the structuring of a subsequent sentence that a person has to complete,” write the study authors, according to a Glasgow statement.
The study was conducted by psychologists Christoph Scheepers, Catherine J. Martin, Andriy Myachykov, Kay Teevan, and Izabela Viskupova of the University of Glasgow, and Patrick Sturt of the University of Edinburgh.
Neuroscientists have found evidence suggesting a link between maths and language, “but this is the first time we’ve shown it in a behavioural setup,” the study authors said, reports the journal Psychological Science.
To find out how abstract-and cognitively general this process is, the experimenters gave native English-speaking students a pencil-and-paper test containing a series of maths problems paired with incomplete sentences.
The subjects were variously successful in solving the problems. What does all this mean?
Our cognitive processes operate “at a very high level of abstraction,” the authors write.
And those abstractions may apply in similar fashion to all kinds of thinking- in numbers, words, or perhaps even music.
- Human mind uses syntax to interpret actions: Study - Nov 05, 2010
- The mind uses syntax to interpret actions - Nov 05, 2010
- Math jitters grip first graders too - Sep 19, 2012
- Too much, too little noise erodes creativity - May 15, 2012
- Stone crafting developed human brain 80,000 years ago - Jun 22, 2011
- Fighter pilots' brains are smarter - Dec 20, 2010
- Obstructive sleep apnea may shrink brain's gray matter - Nov 13, 2010
- Neural mechanism that help adapt to new situations discovered - Apr 29, 2010
- Smoking may erode your problem-solving capacity - Feb 07, 2012
- Electric shock improves academic performance - Jan 26, 2012
- Talking with others in a friendly way improves mental function - Oct 31, 2010
- Here's why teens can't concentrate - Jun 01, 2010
- Taking time off helps pick up new language - Mar 29, 2012
- New study may provide clues to treating a variety of mental disorders - Jan 26, 2011
- Brain doesn't allow math, memory to mix - Sep 04, 2012
Tags: abstract rules, cognitive process, cognitive processes, experimenters, glasgow university, incomplete sentences, level of abstraction, linguists, maths equation, maths problems, myriads, neuroscientists, paper test, pencil and paper, psychological science, sentence structures, study authors, university of edinburgh, university of glasgow, word phrase