Structural priming across cognitive domains: From simple arithmetic to relative-clause attachment

Christoph Scheepers, Patrick Sturt, Catherine Martin, Andriy Myachykov, Kay Teevan, Izabela Viskupova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


In the two experiments reported here, we uncovered evidence for shared structural representations between arithmetic and language. Specifically, we primed subjects using mathematical equations either with or without parenthetical groupings, such as 80 − (9 + 1) × 5 or 80 − 9 + 1 × 5, and then presented a target sentence fragment, such as “The tourist guide mentioned the bells of the church that . . .,” which subjects had to complete. When the mathematical equations were solved correctly, their structure influenced the noun phrase—for example, either “the bells of the church” or “the church,” respectively—that subjects chose to attach their sentence completion to. These experiments provide the first demonstration of cross-domain structural priming from mathematics to language. They highlight the importance of global structural representations at a very high level of abstraction and have potentially far-reaching implications regarding the domain generality of structural representations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1319-1326
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


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