Language is part of our everyday life. To convey meaning, we select words and put them together in sentences following a certain number of grammatical rules. Though we easily understand most sentences in written texts, we also stumble upon constructions such as "The horse raced past the barn fell" or "While Anna dressed the baby spit up" that challenge us cognitively. When this is the case, a garden path effect occurs: our parsing or interpretation strategy fails, causing us to first misinterpret the sentence (it leads us on the garden path) and forcing us to reanalyse the temporarily ambiguous sentence so that it can make sense (Bever, 1970Milne, 1982Ferreira, Christianson & Hollingworth, 2003).

Home-made animation on garden-pathing
Home-made animation on garden pathing. 

Researchers in the field of Human Sentence Processing attempt to find out what are the mechanisms at work in our brain when we construct meaning from sentences. Throughout the years, various psycholinguistic theories have been proposed to explain human sentence processing. In accordance with these theories, several computational models simulating human sentence comprehension have been developed.

This website on the topic of Human Sentence Processing in the field of Computational Psycholinguistics aims to provide those interested with an overview of this topic and the available literature. The intended audience is mostly students in Linguistics, Psychology or Computer Science that wish to get acquainted with the subject. 

The website is divided into five main sections. We first present an introduction to the psycholinguistic Experimentation Methods that can be used to find evidence for diverse aspects of our sentence processing models. The section Model Properties focuses on the main attributes that distinguish sentence processing models from one another, with an emphasis on their advantages and disadvantages. Based on our bibliography, we established a list of current research groups in the field of human sentence processing which can be found under Leading Research Groups. Although it is difficult to divide human sentence processing theories chronologically, some model properties appear nevertheless to be more predominant than others. The section Tendencies reprises our findings on this point. Finally, our Bibliography of human sentence processing is entirely available online. 

People working on this topic are especially welcome to make suggestions, corrections or remarks on this website. Please visit the Contact page to get in touch with the authors.

Dinosaur Comics, November 25th 2003
                            Image Copyright: Ryan North, 2003. Dinosaur Comics: www.qwantz.com.