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Structural Priming from Simple Arithmetic to Specific Chinese Structure
Author(s): 
Pages: 1026-1031
Year: Issue:  5
Journal: Psychological Science

Keyword:  simple arithmetic equationsChinese sentencestructural primingstructural representation;
Abstract: Structural priming refers to the phenomenon that structures, which people recently have processed, tend to affect how people subsequently produce or understand structures. Different from sentence priming, structural priming can be primed by abstract structures in addition to sentences. Scheepers et al.(2011) firstly primed subjects using simple arithmetical equations, providing evidence of abstract structural priming effect from arithmetic equations to English relative-clauses. This pioneering research also offered evidence of domain generality of structural representations. Besides, previous research has found a potential link between linguistic cognition and other cognitive domains involving structured representations like musical cognition(Patel, 2003), mathematical cognition(Dehaene, Spelke, Pinel, Stanescu, & Tsivkin, 1999), and sequential processing(Lelekov, Franck, Dominey, & Georgieff, 2000).Based on the study of Scheepers et al.(2011), this paper investigates the structural priming by employing simple arithmetic equations. To prove whether arithmetic expressions produce similar structural priming effect on Chinese sentences, we selected one Chinese specific structure NP1+YOU+NP2+HEN+(AP), asking Chinese participants(adults and children) to finish two tasks, namely the sentence completion task and the sentence comprehension task. In this research, we mainly explored the following four questions:(1) Whether there is a structural priming effect from arithmetic equations to Chinese specific sentence production;(2) Whether there is structural priming effect from arithmetic equations to Chinese specific sentence comprehension;(3) Whether children and adults show different structural priming effects on the two tasks;(4) Whether arithmetic and language share similar structural representations. Results of the sentence completion tasks showed that both adults and children tended to produce more low-attachment sentences than highattachment sentences in baseline conditions; even the tendency was slightly more obvious for adults. However, the priming effect in adults was not as significant as in children in the sentence completion task. In other words, children generally showed a higher degree of structural priming effect than adults in equal conditions. Results of the sentence comprehension tasks showed that both adults and children tended to produce more high-attachment sentences than lowattachment sentences in baseline conditions, also with greater tendency in adults. Similarly, in this task, children also outperformed adults for being less affected by baseline tendency of the specific Chinese structure so as to show a greater significant priming effect.All the above results showed that:(1) there was a structural priming effect from arithmetic equations to Chinese specific sentence production;(2) there was a structural priming effect from arithmetic equations to Chinese specific sentence comprehension;(3) children showed a greater structural priming effect than adults in the two tasks;(4) arithmetic and language shared similar structural representations to some extent.
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