ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2014, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (6): 902-910.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2014.00902

• Conceptual Framework • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The Influence of Focus Structures on the Interpretation of Pronoun in Mandarin Chinese: Evience from ERP

XU Xiaodong;CHEN Qingrong   

  1. (1 School of Foreign Languages and Cultures, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210097, China) (2 School of Psychology, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210097, China)
  • Received:2013-08-30 Online:2014-06-15 Published:2014-06-15
  • Contact: XU Xiaodong


Up to now, although there have been a great number of studies conducted to deal with the problem of pronoun resolution, most of these studies were concerned with the question of how syntactic and semantic constraints influence the process of pronoun resolution. The question of how pronoun resolution is influenced by pragmatically-based constraints, i.e. information structure (especially focus structure) has not received as much attention in the literature. In particular, we know little about the processes of how focus structures interact with other linguistic information, such as grammatical role, verb semantic, and distance-related factors, to determine the interpretation of pronoun. The purpose of this project is to gain insight into the question of how information structure, namely focus structures, influences the interpretation of the pronoun. In order to achieve this aim, we choose two different types of focus structures, that is, a top-down focus structure (linguistic focus) and a bottom-up focus structure (non-linguistic focus). More specifically, by measuring the latency and amplitude of Event related potential (ERP) components, we want to reveal the process of how these two different types of focus structures exert their influence on pronoun resolution, and during this process whether/how different focus information interact with syntactic and semantic information. Moreover, we also want to reveal the correspondingly electrophysiological correlates underlying these different processing stages. The systematic studies of how focus structures exert their influence on the process of pronoun resolution and especially, how focus information interacts with other syntactic and semantic information during pronoun resolution, can tell us how linguistic constraints (top-down information) and non-linguistic constraints (bottom-up information) interact with each other to contribute to anaphor resolution and sentence representation. Specifically, there are three key questions to address in this project, which are: 1) how top-down focus information influences the pronoun resolution; 2) how bottom-up focus information influences the pronoun resolution; 3) how focus structure, grammatical role, and verb semantic interact with each other during pronoun resolution.

Key words: Information structure, focus structure, pronoun resolution, ERP