Structural priming as implicit learning: a comparison of models of sentence production

J Psycholinguist Res. 2000 Mar;29(2):217-29. doi: 10.1023/a:1005101313330.


Structural priming reflects a tendency to generalize recently spoken or heard syntactic structures to different utterances. We propose that it is a form of implicit learning. To explore this hypothesis, we developed and tested a connectionist model of language production that incorporated mechanisms previously used to simulate implicit learning. In the model, the mechanism that learned to produce structured sequences of phrases from messages also exhibited structural priming. The ability of the model to account for structural priming depended on representational assumptions about the nature of messages and the relationship between comprehension and production. Modeling experiments showed that comprehension-based representations were important for the model's generalizations in production and that nonatomic message representations allowed a better fit to existing data on structural priming than traditional thematic-role representations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cognition / physiology
  • Humans
  • Linguistics*
  • Verbal Learning*