Verb Aspect and the Activation of Event Knowledge
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
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The authors show that verb aspect influences the activation of event knowledge with 4 novel results. First, common locations of events (e.g., arena) are primed following verbs with imperfective aspect (e.g., was skating) but not verbs with perfect aspect (e.g., had skated). Second, people generate more locative prepositional phrases as completions to sentence fragments with imperfective than those with perfect aspect. Third, the amplitude of the N400 component to location nouns varies as a function of aspect and typicality, being smallest for imperfective sentences with highly expected locations and largest for imperfective sentences with less expected locations. Fourth, the amplitude of a sustained frontal negativity spanning prepositional phrases is larger following perfect than following imperfective aspect. Taken together, these findings suggest a dynamic interplay between event knowledge and the linguistic stream.