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      Anaphora resolution and word-order across adulthood: Ageing effects on online listening comprehension


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          In this visual-world paradigm we investigated the processing and interpretation of two overt subject anaphoric expressions in Greek, a null-subject language with a relatively free word-order, in relation to specific linguistic properties and whether these differ across adulthood. Specifically, we explored whether changes in anaphoric type ( o ídhios vs. aftós) and syntactic complexity (SVO vs. OVS word-orders) had similar effects in how reference was processed and finally resolved by young and elderly adults. We analysed (a) fixation duration in subject and object antecedent pictures to examine online processing and (b) offline responses in comprehension questions to investigate final interpretation, i.e., ambiguity resolution. Our offline results revealed that pronominal resolution patterned across age groups: A clear subject preference of o ídhios (‘the same’) was drawn from results irrespective of the word-order used, suggesting that this expression is preferentially linked to an element in prior discourse that has a parallel subject grammatical role, due to its focus feature (though OVS boosted the less preferred object readings). Aftós (‘he’), a pronoun previously suggested sensitive to topic-shift, was overall proved ambiguous for both young and elderly adults. An age effect was qualified by significant differences in online processing of both subject expressions, as evidenced by fixation on both antecedent pictures. Interestingly, syntactic complexity (OVS structures) interacted with age in the case of o ídhios, raising fixation in subject antecedents among young, compared to the elderly adults. Age, but not linguistic manipulation, modulated processing of the anaphoric pronoun aftós and of object antecedent pictures overall.

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          Fitting Linear Mixed-Effects Models Using lme4

          Maximum likelihood or restricted maximum likelihood (REML) estimates of the parameters in linear mixed-effects models can be determined using the lmer function in the lme4 package for R. As for most model-fitting functions in R, the model is described in an lmer call by a formula, in this case including both fixed- and random-effects terms. The formula and data together determine a numerical representation of the model from which the profiled deviance or the profiled REML criterion can be evaluated as a function of some of the model parameters. The appropriate criterion is optimized, using one of the constrained optimization functions in R, to provide the parameter estimates. We describe the structure of the model, the steps in evaluating the profiled deviance or REML criterion, and the structure of classes or types that represents such a model. Sufficient detail is included to allow specialization of these structures by users who wish to write functions to fit specialized linear mixed models, such as models incorporating pedigrees or smoothing splines, that are not easily expressible in the formula language used by lmer. Journal of Statistical Software, 67 (1) ISSN:1548-7660
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            What is the best fixation target? The effect of target shape on stability of fixational eye movements.

            People can direct their gaze at a visual target for extended periods of time. Yet, even during fixation the eyes make small, involuntary movements (e.g. tremor, drift, and microsaccades). This can be a problem during experiments that require stable fixation. The shape of a fixation target can be easily manipulated in the context of many experimental paradigms. Thus, from a purely methodological point of view, it would be good to know if there was a particular shape of a fixation target that minimizes involuntary eye movements during fixation, because this shape could then be used in experiments that require stable fixation. Based on this methodological motivation, the current experiments tested if the shape of a fixation target can be used to reduce eye movements during fixation. In two separate experiments subjects directed their gaze at a fixation target for 17s on each trial. The shape of the fixation target varied from trial to trial and was drawn from a set of seven shapes, the use of which has been frequently reported in the literature. To determine stability of fixation we computed spatial dispersion and microsaccade rate. We found that only a target shape which looks like a combination of bulls eye and cross hair resulted in combined low dispersion and microsaccade rate. We recommend the combination of bulls eye and cross hair as fixation target shape for experiments that require stable fixation. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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              Cognitive Status and the Form of Referring Expressions in Discourse


                Author and article information

                Glossa: a journal of general linguistics
                Ubiquity Press
                20 July 2020
                : 5
                : 1
                : 71
                [1 ]Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, GR
                [2 ]Universidad de Granada, ES
                [3 ]University of Cambridge, GB
                Copyright: © 2020 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                : 05 May 2019
                : 04 May 2020

                General linguistics,Linguistics & Semiotics
                overt subject anaphoric expressions,ageing,visual-world paradigm,word-order,anaphora resolution


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