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School of Psychology Qingrong Chen's group reveals the cognitive mechanism of word contextual diversity

Generally speaking, the vocabulary experience people already had is the key factor of word recognition, while word frequency is recognized as the most general individual vocabulary experience, accounting for about over 40 percent of variability of the word recognition time. Hence, word frequency is always recognized as the important driving factor of vocabulary accessibility in the fields of psychology, linguistics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence etc., and plays an important role in connectionist model of visual word recognition. On the basis of current studies, Qingrong Chen's group at SOP skillfully utilizes the logographic orthography of Mandarin Chinese, and uses eye-tracking instruments with millisecond sampling rate (SMI High-Speed 1250 HZ), designing three experiments so as to reveal the cognitive mechanism of word contextual diversity (CD) in reading.

In Experiment 1, by strictly choosing word material, the researchers studied the processing mode of words in conditions of higher frequency words and higher CD (HCD), higher frequency words and lower CD (Control) and lower frequency words and lower CD (LWF) through the same sentence frame for the first time. The researchers used the latest linear mixed-effects models to analysis the eye movement data. The studies found out that there are multiple CD effects under a higher frequency condition while no word frequency effect under a lower CD condition. However, the latter condition still shows the trend of advantage effects of high word frequency in a number of data indicators. In view of this, the researchers designed Experiments 2a and 2b, observing the modes of data change within narrow frequency (2a, log frequency difference=0.4) and greater frequency (2b, log frequency difference = 1.1) respectively. It turned out that there is no trend of word frequency effect in Experiment 2b compared with Experiment 2a, yet there are still significant CD effects. The study provides solid evidence for the CD effects in the natural reading situation, and new and cutting-edge entry points for relative research in the fields of Chinese psychological linguistics, neurolinguistics, cognitive linguistics and artificial intelligence.

The above research results were recently published in the journal of Psychonomic Society in U.S., Psychonomic Bulletin and Review (SSCI Q1),  which is the academic journal actually ranking first in mathematical orientation of SSCI Psychology in the recent decade. The important correspondence authors are Professor Yiming Yang (Changjiang-Scholars Distinguished Professor, Professor at School of Linguistic Sciences and Institute for Advanced Linguistic Study of Jiangsu Normal University, Professor at Collaborative Innovation Center for Language Ability of Jiangsu, Postdoctoral Tutor at School of Chinese Language and Cultures of NNU), and Professor Michael K. Tanenhaus (Dean of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Professor at Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department of University of Rochester, NNU Chair Professor). This study is a successful practice of cooperation between colleges of Humanities and Social Sciences in NNU such as SOP, School of Chinese Language and Cultures and School of Foreign Language and Cultures, to explore mechanisms of language comprehension. This work was supported by grants from the Major State Basic Research Development Program of China (973 Program, 2014CB340502), the Major Program of the Social Science Foundation of China (10&ZD126), the Natural Science Foundation of China (31100814), the Social Science Foundation of China (14BSH077), and American NIH grants (HD 27206 and HD 073890).

(School of Psychology)