Heming Strømholt Bremnes, Norges Teknisk-Naturvitenskapelige Universitet, on the computational complexity of quantifier verification and its neural consequences

Publicerad den 16 april 2024

On site: SOL L303b, zoom: https://lu-se.zoom.us/j/62491331134

Because of their mathematical nature, quantifiers are one of the few types of expressions in natural language for which a purely non-linguistic semantics can be given. This feature has prompted extensive study of quantificational expressions in formal semantics and has resulted in several theoretical results. Among these results is the fact that quantifiers fall into different classes depending on the complexity of their verification. Of interest to neuro- and psycholinguistics is the corollary that Aristotelian and numerical quantifiers (e.g. 'all' and 'three') can be verified with minimal working memory resources, whereas proportional quantifiers (e.g. 'most') requires an algorithm with a dedicated memory component. In a series of three EEG-experiments, we demonstrated that this theoretically derived difference is reflected in the evoked potential during sentence processing with verification. In this talk, I will present these experiments and attempt to draw some conclusions about the impact of verification complexity on models of sentence processing.