Toward a Functional Model of Human Language Processing


This paper describes a computational cognitive model of human language processing under development in the ACT-R cognitive architecture. The paper begins with the context for the research, followed by a discussion of the primary theoretical and modeling commitments. The main theoretical commitment is to develop a language model which is at once functional and cognitively plausible. The paper continues with a description of the word recognition subcomponent of the language model which uses a perceptual span and ACT-R’s spreading activation mechanism to activate and select the lexical unit that most closely matches the perceptual input. Next we present a description of the linguistic structure building component of the model which combines parallel, probabilistic processing with serial, pseudo-deterministic processing, including a non-monotonic context accommodation mechanism. A description of the mapping of linguistic representations into a situation model, follows. The paper concludes with a summary and conclusions.

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