Linguistics Colloquium

Dependency Completion in Sentence Processing: Some Recent Computational and Empirical investigations

Shravan Vasishth
University of Potsdam
Tue April 20th 2021, 12:00 - 1:20pm
Online (Zoom)

Please email for Zoom link.

Dependency completion processes in sentence processing have been intensively studied in psycholinguistics (e.g., Gibson 2000). I will discuss some recent work (e.g., Yadav et al. 2021) on computational models of dependency completion as they relate to a class of effects, so-called interference effects (Jäger et al. 2017). Using antecedent-reflexive and subject-verb number dependencies as a case study (Jäger et al. 2020), I will discuss the evidence base for some of the competing theoretical claims relating to these phenomena.  A common thread running through the talk will be that the well-known replication and statistical crisis in psychology and other areas (Nosek et al. 2015, Gelman and Carlin 2014) is also unfolding in psycholinguistics and needs to be taken seriously (Vasishth et al. 2018).


Andrew Gelman and John Carlin (2014). Beyond power calculations: Assessing type S (sign) and type M (magnitude) errors. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 9(6), 641-651.

Edward Gibson, (2000). The dependency locality theory: A distance-based theory of linguistic complexity. Image, Language, Brain, 2000, 95-126. 

Lena A. Jäger, Felix Engelmann, and Shravan Vasishth, (2017). Similarity-based interference in sentence comprehension: Literature review and Bayesian meta-analysis. Journal of Memory and Language, 94:316-339. 

Lena A. Jäger, Daniela Mertzen, Julie A. Van Dyke, and Shravan Vasishth, (2020). Interference patterns in subject-verb agreement and reflexives revisited: A large-sample study. Journal of Memory and Language, 111. 

Brian A. Nosek, & Open Science Collaboration. (2015). Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science. Science, 349(6251), aac4716-aac4716.

Shravan Vasishth, Daniela Mertzen, Lena A. Jäger, and Andrew Gelman, (2018). The statistical significance filter leads to overoptimistic expectations of replicability. Journal of Memory and Language, 103:151-175. 

Shravan Vasishth and Felix Engelmann, (2021). Sentence comprehension as a cognitive process: A computational approach. Cambridge University Press. In Press.

Himanshu Yadav, Garrett Smith, and Shravan Vasishth, (2021). Feature encoding modulates cue-based retrieval: Modeling interference effects in both grammatical and ungrammatical sentences. Submitted.