Date of Award

5-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

College/School

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Department/Program

Psychology

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Peter Vietze

Committee Member

Ruth Propper

Committee Member

David Townsend

Subject(s)

Left- and right-handedness, Belief change, Grammar, Comparative and general--Sentences, Grammar, Comparative and general--Parsing

Abstract

Handedness is a marker for individual differences in brain organization. Garden path sentences (GPS), those that require a mid-sentence change in understanding to capture sentence meaning require the updating of beliefs via the right hemisphere. Inconsistent-handers (ICH) have increased access to right hemisphere processes, which has previously been shown to result in increased belief updating. It was hypothesized that ICH would be more accurate and more rapid in their processing of GPS relative to consistent right handers (CRH) due to increased access to the neural structures involved. Additionally, men and women differ in their brain organization, and in their cortical representation of language. It was therefore hypothesized that differences in GPS processing may occur as a function of gender. Results revealed decreased speed of processing of GPS in ICH versus CRH, and processing of typical and non-sentences faster in ICH relative to CRH, with the effect holding especially true for men. Results tentatively support individual differences in sentence processing as a function of handedness, which may be mediated by gender. Increased, rather than decreased, reaction time in ICH for GPS may reflect increased atypical representation of language functions in ICH. Future work should replicate this study with a larger sample of men.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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