15.3352, Diss: Psycholing: Stockall: 'Magentoencephalographic...'

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LINGUIST List: Vol-15-3352. Wed Dec 01 2004. ISSN: 1068 - 4875.

Subject: 15.3352, Diss: Psycholing: Stockall: 'Magentoencephalographic...'                                                                                                                                                      

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Date: 30-Nov-2004
From: Linnaea Stockall < linnaea at eyelab.msu.edu >
Subject: Magentoencephalographic Investigations of Morphological Irregularity and Identity 

-------------------------Message 1 ---------------------------------- 
Date: Wed, 01 Dec 2004 13:17:09
From: Linnaea Stockall < linnaea at eyelab.msu.edu >
Subject: Magentoencephalographic Investigations of Morphological Irregularity and Identity 

Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
Program: Department of Linguistics 
Dissertation Status: Completed 
Degree Date: 2004 

Author: Linnaea Stockall

Dissertation Title: Magentoencephalographic Investigations of Morphological
Irregularity and Identity 

Dissertation URL:  http://eyelab.msu.edu/people/linnaea/stockall_thesis.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): 

Dissertation Director(s):
Alec Marantz
Donca Steriade
Ted Gibson

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis addresses the longstanding debate in the psycholinguistics
literature about the correct way to characterize the psychological status
of morphological relatedness and irregular allomorphy. The model argued for
here is one in which the mental lexicon consists of lexical roots
(sound~meaning pairs that are arbitrary in the Saussurian sense, such as
CAT: 'feline'<-->/kæt/) and functional morphemes (affixes such as the plural
marker -s, that carry purely grammatical information). Complex words are
assembled by the grammar out of these roots and affixes. We argue that this
is true even for words like gave which don't clearly separate into two
pieces, but are abstractly parallel to walked, which does. 

Evidence for this full, across the board decomposition model is provided in
a series of priming experiments that use magnetoencephalography to measure
the earliest stages of lexical processing. Both regular and irregular
allomorphs of a root are shown to access their root equally. These results,
then, are incompatible both with connectionist models which treat all
morphological relatedness as similarity, and with dual mechanism models
which argue that regular allomorphy and irregular allomorphy arise from
completely different systems, and only regular allomorphy involves root
activation and composition. 

In this model, morphological relatedness is argued to be an identity
relation between various allomorphs of a single, shared root, and is
therefore clearly distinguished from semantic and phonological relatedness,
which merely involve similarity between the meaning, or form, of different
roots. The experiments reported in this dissertation support this model:
the neural responses evoked by identity are significantly distinct from the
neural responses evoked by similarity.

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