Lab meeting by Janet Chang & Wong Hui Xuan (15 Sept, 3pm, AS5/04-05)

Dear all, we have a double-bill lab meeting tomorrow! Janet & Hui Xuan will be jointly presenting on “Relationships Between Infant-Directed Speech and Joint Attention in a Naturalistic Setting”.

Date/Time: 15th Sept 2010, 3pm

Venue: AS5/04-05 (Psycholinguistics Lab)

Title: Relationships Between Infant-Directed Speech and Joint Attention in a Naturalistic Setting

Infant-directed speech (IDS) is a cross-culturally attested speech register that is addressed to infants. It is distinct from adult-directed speech (ADS) in terms of its acoustic and linguistic properties. IDS has been found to facilitate language learning, having effects on areas such as word recognition and word segmentation skills. Fernald (1984) hypothesized that IDS may serve attentional, affective, and linguistic functions in infant development. Previous studies have examined mothers’ use of IDS and infants’ attentional responses to IDS separately, and in experimental settings.  This study aims to find out whether IDS facilitates the establishment and maintenance of joint attention between mothers and infants in a naturalistic play situation. Joint attention is of interest because it has been found to predict language development. We expect that the extent of acoustic exaggeration and linguistic simplification will be related to measures of joint attention.

Lab meeting by Cynthia Siew (8 Sept, 3pm, AS5/04-05)

Dear all,

Cynthia Siew will be presenting tomorrow on “Joint effects of word frequency and stimulus quality on auditory lexical decision”.

Date/Time: 8th Sept 2010, 3pm

Venue: AS5/04-05 (Psycholinguistics Lab)

Title: Joint effects of word frequency and stimulus quality on auditory lexical decision

Two of the most robust effects in word recognition are the stimulus quality effect and word frequency effect. People recognize target words faster when they are clearly presented, or intact, as compared to words that are degraded. Also, frequently occurring words are recognized faster than rarely occurring words.

Research in the field of visual word recognition has consistently found additive effects for word frequency and stimulus quality (Borowsky & Besner, 1993; Plourde & Besner, 1997; Yap & Balota, 2007). These results suggest that there are two separate stages of processing in word recognition. It is postulated that stimulus quality influences the initial stage, which “cleans up” the word representation while word frequency influences the subsequent stage where this representation is mapped onto its corresponding representation in the semantic system.

To date, it appears that no study has investigated the effects of these two variables in a single auditory lexical decision task. Hence, it is unclear as to whether additive effects will also be found within an auditory experimental paradigm. Therefore, the goal of this study is to investigate the joint effect of word frequency and stimulus quality in an auditory lexical decision task. The results of this study will help us to draw conclusions about the word recognition architecture in the auditory domain, and in particular deduce if the two stage model of visual word recognition may be generalized to auditory word recognition.

Lab meeting by Tan Seok Hui (1 Sept, 3pm, AS5/04-05)

Dr. Tan Seok Hui will be presenting tomorrow on “Multimodal strategies for teaching children new words”.

Date/Time: 1st Sept 2010, 3pm

Venue: AS5/04-05 (Psycholinguistics Lab)

Title: Multimodal strategies for teaching children new words

The ability to learn new vocabulary and demonstrate prelinguistic abilities are observed to be relative strengths for children with Down Syndrome (DS) and children with Global Development Delay (GDD), while remaining an area of development which can be facilitated by teaching children new vocabulary using more than one language modality such as sign and speech, or visual symbols, sign, and speech (e.g., Bird et al., 2000; Foreman & Crews, 1998). Using a cross-over repeated-measures design, we examine the efficiacy of having parents and teachers, as well as speech and language therapists, use a multimodal (visual-sign-speech) or dual modal (sign-speech) strategies to teach new vocabulary to 11 children with DS and six children with GDD enrolled in the same early intervention programme in a special needs school. It was hypothesized that children’s productive vocabulary assessed through language sampling and parent-report measures of vocabulary using the Singapore Communicative Development Inventories ( and their ability to initiate joint attention and gaze-following behaviour would improve with the multimodal strategy relative to the dual modal strategy. Preliminary analysis of the results indicate type-token ratios for spoken language and initiated joint attention improved following the use of the multimodal strategy over the dual modal strategy, independent of intervention order (multimodal before dual modal or vice versa), indicating support for the view that visual symbols facilitate word learning for these children.

Lab Meeting by Zhang Lan (25 Aug, 3pm, AS5/04-05)

Zhang Lan will be presenting this week.

Date/Time: 25th August 2010, 3pm

Venue: AS5/04-05 (Psycholinguistics Lab)

Title: Effects of psycholinguistic variables on adults’ spelling: A regression-based study

Spelling could occur via two routes: the lexical route which depends on rote memory and the sublexical route whereby words are assembled serially using common sound-spelling rules. Specifically, the lexical route is sensitive to the frequency of a word and insensitive to its length or the consistency of its sound-spelling mappings, while the sublexical route is insensitive to frequency, but sensitive to length and consistency.  The present study aims to investigate the effects of various psycholinguistic variables, particularly lexical (e.g. word frequency) and sublexical variables (e.g. consistency) on undergraduates’ spelling of English words and nonwords, using spelling RTs, accuracy, and error quality as dependent variables. Using regression analyses, the effects of different psycholinguistic characteristics on word and nonword spelling performance will be assessed.

Lab meeting by Melvin Yap (18 Aug, 3pm, AS5/04-05)

Melvin Yap will be presenting this week.

Date/Time: 18th August 2010, 3pm

Venue: AS5/04-05 (Psycholinguistics Lab)

Title: Does inflectional morphology require one or two mechanisms? The joint effects of regularity and consistency on past tense verb processing

In English past tense formation, most verbs are regular, i.e., inflected by adding -ed, but a minority of irregular verbs (e.g., singsang) violate this principle. The dual-mechanism model (Pinker, 1999) proposes a rule-based mechanism for regular verbs and a lexically-based mechanism for irregular verbs. In contrast, the connectionist perspective (Rumelhart & McClelland, 1986) posits a single analogy-based mechanism for all verbs, suggesting that consistency, the extent to which similar-sounding verbs are inflected similarly, should be the major factor in past tense formation. A recent hybrid approach (Albright & Hayes, 2003) eschews analogy in favor of multiple stochastic rules, quantifying the reliability of these rules via confidence scores. We evaluated these frameworks by examining the effects of regularity, consistency, and confidence on past tense formation latencies. Importantly, an interaction was observed between consistency/confidence and regularity, whereby consistency and confidence effects were larger for regular verbs. These findings provide important constraints for models of inflectional morphology and suggest that irregular past tense forms may have more distinct representations.

Lab meeting by Daphne Koek (11 Aug, 3pm, AS5/04-05)

Daphne Koek will be presenting tomorrow on her honors project.

Date/Time: 11th August 2010, 3pm

Venue: AS5/04-05 (Psycholinguistics Lab)

Title: Insights from scrambled words: mkanig snese of transpsoed lteter efefcts

This study investigates the transposed letter (TL) effect. The TL effect refers to the phenomenon whereby a nonword like flwoer (i.e., flower with the medial two letters transposed) is able to prime flower. The TL effect is of interest to researchers because it provides insights into orthographic input coding processes and in turn, allows us to better understand how visual word recognition takes place. The TL effect poses challenges to extant models, and no model has yet been able to fully account for the empirical finding. The present study aims to investigate TL effects by systematically manipulating two variables – the position of transpositions (e.g. lfower vs. flwoer vs. flowre) and the extent of transpositions (e.g. lfower vs. lfwoer vs. lfwore). Both the standard and sandwich masked priming paradigms will be used in the lexical decision task. The findings of this study will be compared against predicted results from different models of orthographic input coding, thus allowing us to adjudicate between these different models.

Lab meeting by Siti Syuhada (3 Aug, 2pm, AS5/04-05)

One of our lab alumni, Siti Syuhada, is in town, and she will be talking about some of her recent work on 3rd August. See below for more details.

Date/Time: 3rd August 2010, 2-3pm

Venue: AS5/04-05 (Psycholinguistics Lab)

Title: Speling “Successful” Sucesfuly: The Special Case of Medial Consonants

Carney (1997) has suggested a list of linguistic or contextual rules in English that influence the spelling of medial consonants (to double or not to double). For example, words that begin with short vowels are more likely to have medial consonants that double than words that begin with long vowels. Words with certain Latinate endings are also more likely to have single medial consonants. This study thus seeks to explore the role of these rules in the spelling of medial consonants using nonwords. It also aims to further extend the research by comparing English speakers in Singapore who are of Chinese-, Malay-, and Tamil-speaking backgrounds. These three diverse language backgrounds provide excellent points of comparisons of the effects of language background on English spelling based on differences in their orthography, phonology and morphology.

About the speaker:
I am currently pursuing a PhD in Psychology under Prof. Rebecca Treiman. My research primarily focuses on cross-linguistic comparisons in language processes such as reading, writing and spelling, where I attempt to uncover which language processes are language-specific or language-universal.