Interference effects from grammatically unavailable constituents during sentence processing.
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Evidence from 3 experiments reveals interference effects from structural relationships that are inconsistent with any grammatical parse of the perceived input. Processing disruption was observed when items occurring between a head and a dependent overlapped with either (or both) syntactic or semantic features of the dependent. Effects of syntactic interference occur in the earliest online measures in the region where the retrieval of a long-distance dependent occurs. Semantic interference effects occur in later online measures at the end of the sentence. Both effects endure in offline comprehension measures, suggesting that interfering items participate in incorrect interpretations that resist reanalysis. The data are discussed in terms of a cue-based retrieval account of parsing, which reconciles the fact that the parser must violate the grammar in order for these interference effects to occur. Broader implications of this research indicate a need for a precise specification of the interface between the parsing mechanism and the memory system that supports language comprehension.
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