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Keywords:

  • Language processing;
  • Syntactic priming;
  • Learning;
  • Adaptation

Abstract

This study provides evidence for implicit learning in syntactic comprehension. By reanalyzing data from a syntactic priming experiment (Thothathiri & Snedeker, 2008), we find that the error signal associated with a syntactic prime influences comprehenders' subsequent syntactic expectations. This follows directly from error-based implicit learning accounts of syntactic priming, but it is unexpected under accounts that consider syntactic priming a consequence of temporary increases in base-level activation. More generally, the results raise questions about the principles underlying the maintenance of implicit statistical knowledge relevant to language processing, and about possible functional motivations for syntactic priming.