In day-to-day life, producing and comprehending language appears effortless—we can do it for hours on end, often while engaging in other activities. But in reality, it is breathtaking to consider the amount of information that must be processed, and the different types of knowledge that must be integrated. Here are just a few of the things that we accomplish in the course of normal language comprehension: First, we have to locate the beginnings and endings of words from a continuous stream of sound. We have to make on-the-fly decisions about how the words should be put together in phrases, often deciding between multiple possibilities. And most complex of all, we have to integrate information from the linguistic stream together with contextual information, including the visual scene, information about the speaker's state of mind or goals, our past experiences of the world, and so on. Much of my scientific research has explored how these many threads of information are put together during real-time language processing, and how children acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to accomplish the same feat.
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Sedivy, J. (2003). Pragmatic versus form-based accounts of referential contrast: Evidence for effects of informativity expectations. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research.
Sussman, R. & Sedivy, J. (2003). The time course of processing syntactic dependencies: Evidence from eye movements during spoken narratives. Language and Cognitive Processes.18, 143-163.>
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Sedivy, J. (2002). Invoking discourse-based contrast sets and resolving syntactic ambiguities. Journal of Memory and Language, 341-370.
Nadig, A. & Sedivy, J. (2002). Evidence of perspective-taking constraints in children's on-line reference resolution. Psychological Science, 13 (4), pp. 329-336.
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