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Neurocognition of 
Language Processing

The critical role of interference control in metaphor comprehension evidenced by the drift–diffusion model

We addressed the question of, among several executive functions, which one has a strong influence on metaphor comprehension. To this end, participants took part in a metaphor comprehension task where metaphors had varying levels of familiarity (familiar vs. novel metaphors) with different conditions of context (supporting vs. opposing contexts). We showed that better performances in comprehending metaphors were strongly associated with better interference control. Using the drift–diffusion model, we found that familiarity, compared to context, had greater leverage in the decision process for metaphor comprehension. Moreover, individuals with better performance in the COWAT-Semantic test demonstrated higher drift rates. In conclusion, with a more fine-grained analysis of the decisions involved in metaphor comprehension using the drift–diffusion modeling, we argue that interference control plays an important role in processing metaphors.

Project Lead: Hee Dong Yoon

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Relative clause (RC) formation and center embedding (CE) are two primary syntactic operations for creating and understanding complex sentences. Here, we show how readers process CE and RC using a self-paced reading task in Korean. More interestingly, we adopted a novel self-paced pseudoword reading task to exploit syntactic operations of the RC and CE, eliminating the semantic and pragmatic interference in sentence comprehension. Our results showed that the main effects of RC and CE conform to previous studies. Furthermore, we found a facilitation effect on sentence comprehension when we combined an RC and CE in a complex sentence. Our study provides valuable insight into how the purely syntactic processing of RC and CE assists the comprehension of complex sentences.

Project Lead: Kyung Hwan Chun

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Syntactic Comprehension of Relative Clauses and Center Embedding Using Pseudowords

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