The Neural Basis of Argument Structure Composition through Eye-Tracking, Focal Brain-Lesion and fMRI

Sara Sanchez-AlonsoYale University, New Haven, CT, USA
Amy LyYale College, New Haven, CT 06520 USA
David BrazeHaskins Laboratories , 300 George Street
Cheryl M. LacadieDepartment of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 300 George Street \\ New Haven, CT 06520 USA
Todd ConstableDepartment of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 300 George Street \\ New Haven, CT 06520 USA
Maria M. PinangoLinguistics Department, 370 Temple Street \\ New Haven, CT 06520 USA

Abstract

We investigate the processing and neurological basis of Light Verb Constructions (LVCs) such as "The girl gives a kiss (to the boy)" where the thrust of the event argument structure is provided not by the verb "give" but by the NP "a kiss". LVCs contrasts with "heavy" counterparts (HVC) as in "photograph" in "The girl photographs a kiss (between her friends)". We examine two questions: 1) whether the heavy reading is derived from the "light" reading, or instead the "heavy" reading is lexically stored alongside the light counterpart, and 2) whether LVCs are lexically stored as idioms or instead, they are built compositionally during real-time comprehension. The results support a view of LVCs that is compositional (in real-time terms), semantic in nature, and supported by the workings of the LIF cortex, an area previously robustly associated with argument structure composition.

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