The cognitive brown bag speaker this week will be Cassandra Jacobs, of UC Davis (https://cljacobs.net/) on “What memory for phrases can tell us about memory and phrases” (abstract below). As usual, the talk will be on Wednesday, 12:00-1:15, Tobin 521B. All are welcome.
Abstract. Language is full of regularities and formulaic language. We reuse familiar words and phrases and combine them in novel ways to express new ideas. Most research has focused on words, but recent psycholinguistic research suggests that we also represent phrases like “psychic nephew” and “alcoholic beverages” in long-term memory, typically arguing that frequent phrases are easier to process because they are represented and retrieved from memory as unanalyzed wholes, effectively just like words (e.g. Jansen & Barber, 2012; Arnon & Cohen Priva, 2013; Goldberg, 2003). In my research, I have questioned whether this is true by asking how phrases are represented in episodic memory. In two recognition memory and free recall experiments, I will show that phrases are fundamentally composed of words, and are not represented as unanalyzed, word-like units in long-term memory. I propose that simple mechanisms can be used to explain phrase frequency effects without needing to posit the existence of phrases per se. I will then describe a verbal model of memory that can explain phrase frequency effects in recognition and free recall.