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Measuring Grammatical Complexity$
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Frederick J. Newmeyer and Laurel B. Preston

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199685301

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199685301.001.0001

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Computational complexity in the brain

Computational complexity in the brain

(p.264) 13 Computational complexity in the brain
Measuring Grammatical Complexity

Cristiano Chesi

Andrea Moro

Oxford University Press

This chapter has two goals. First, it discusses how formal grammars and equivalent automata can be used to formulate explicit metrics measuring the degree of complexity of natural languages. Second, it tries to relate such metrics to brain-imaging data obtained during performance tasks. The chapter presents the Chomsky hierarchy and the corresponding automata theory, which are used to tease the memory component (space complexity) from the derivational component (time complexity) in the complexity cost function. The chapter then goes on to the experimental evidence relating automata, processing, and brain function. In particular, the chapter focuses on specific brain regions, in particular, Broca’s area, that are involved in non-local syntactic dependencies such as relative clauses.

Keywords:   automata, Broca’s area, Chomsky hierarchy, grammatical complexity, mathematical linguistics, neurolinguistics, processing, relative clauses, space complexity, time complexity

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