Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Ken McRae

Second Advisor

Mary Hare

Third Advisor

Jeff Elman


Knowledge of real-world events influences how people understand language. The present study examined whether conceptually-based expectations are generated rapidly from event knowledge. Specifically, instruments combined with specific actions to influence expectancies for ensuing patients, in contrast to Rayner, Warren, Juhasz, and Liversedge (2004). Instrument-verb-patient triplets were created from norms designed to directly tap event knowledge (Experiment 1). In self-paced reading (Experiment 2), participants read patient nouns such as paper faster when they were typical of the instrument-action pair (Susan used the scissors vs. the saw to cut). Experiment 3 showed that these results are not due to direct relations between instruments and patients. This research demonstrates that conceptual event-based expectations are computed rapidly and dynamically during on-line language comprehension. The results are discussed in terms of event spaces and verb sense, suggesting that instruments can alter the sense of a verb and thus expectations for ensuing patients.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.