Intersentential syntactic context effects on comprehension: the role of working memory
SourceCognitive Brain Research, 16, 1, (2003), pp. 111-122
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC CO
SW OZ NICI CO
Cognitive Brain Research
The study investigated the influence of a syntactically biasing context sentence on the processing of syntactically complex object-first relative clauses and even more complex object-first complement clauses in readers with individual differences in working memory. Behavioral as well as brain responses (event-related potentials, ERPs) were recorded from two groups of participants with either a high or a low working memory span. The behavioral data taken from a post-sentence comprehension question task indicate an intersentential syntactic contextual influence on the comprehension of object-first relative clauses for low span readers, but not for high span readers. The on-line ERP measures taken at the disambiguating item revealed for the high span readers a main effect of structure (subject- versus object-first) i.e., a P600, independent of context. Low span readers, in contrast, did not show any P600 structure effect. Thus, the combined data indicate a differential context effect on sentence comprehension in low and high span readers. High span readers parse the incoming information independent of intersentential context, whereas low span readers use the intersentential context off-line.
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