Oral
Modeling the effects of memory on human online sentence processing with particle filters
Roger Levy · Florencia Reali · Tom Griffiths

Language comprehension in humans is significantly constrained by memory, yet rapid, highly incremental, and capable of utilizing a wide range of contextual information to resolve ambiguity and form expectations about future input. In contrast, most of the leading psycholinguistic models and fielded algorithms for natural language parsing are non-incremental, have run time superlinear in input length, and/or enforce structural locality constraints on probabilistic dependencies between events. We present a new limited-memory model of sentence comprehension which involves an adaptation of the particle filter, a sequential Monte Carlo method, to the problem of incremental parsing. We show that this model can reproduce classic results in online sentence comprehension, and that it naturally provides the first rational account of an outstanding problem in psycholinguistics, in which the preferred alternative in a syntactic ambiguity seems to grow more attractive over time even in the absence of strong disambiguating information.

Author Information

Roger Levy (UC San Diego)
Florencia Reali
Tom Griffiths (Princeton)

More from the Same Authors