Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience and Cognitive Systems

CCNCS Seminar Details

Online processing of negation

Speaker: Dr Heather Ferguson
Date/Time: Wednesday 3 December 2008, 4.15pm
Location: Computing Laboratory, Room S110B


Though they are plentiful, previous studies of negation have not lead to a clear account on the mechanisms and constraints associated with representing negated information. Specifically, negation raises two important processing questions: how quickly is factual knowledge negated, and when is an alternative mental model created? It is often reported that negation leads to a delay in processing as comprehenders must first integrate the falsity of the negated entity. However, this suggestion is difficult to accept in cases where negation is used to affirm a factual proposition. Thus, I will discuss a series of studies that investigate how negation is processed in local sentences (e.g. 'The boy will not eat the...') and how a negative context influences subsequent processing (e.g. 'If cats were not carnivores...'), specifically in comparison to cases where negation affirms a factual proposition (e.g. 'Because cats are not vegetarians...). This work will span a range of psycholinguistic techniques that have allowed us to accurately tap into the online processing of negated information. Finally, I will review some of the open questions in this field as well as some suggestions for future study.

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Last Updated: 24/05/2013