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Representational complexity and memory retrieval in language comprehension

Hofmeister, Philip (2011) 'Representational complexity and memory retrieval in language comprehension.' Language and Cognitive Processes, 26 (3). pp. 376-405. ISSN 0169-0965

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Abstract

Mental representations formed from words or phrases may vary considerably in their feature-based complexity. Modern theories of retrieval in sentence comprehension do not indicate how this variation and the role of encoding processes should influence memory performance. Here, memory retrieval in language comprehension is shown to be influenced by a target's representational complexity in terms of syntactic and semantic features. Three self-paced reading experiments provide evidence that reading times at retrieval sites (but not earlier) decrease when more complex phrases occur as filler phrases in filler-gap dependencies. The data also show that complexity-based effects are not dependent on string length, syntactic differences, or the amount of processing the stimuli elicit. Activation boosting and reduced similarity-based interference are implicated as likely sources of these complexity-based effects.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Complexity; Memory retrieval; Encoding; Filler-gap dependencies; Sentence processing
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2012 12:02
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2012 12:02
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/4238

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