Language Comprehension as Structure Building
This research investigated the role of two structure building mechanisms in language comprehension. They are Suppression and Enhancement. The first series of experiments investigated the role of suppression in word understanding. The results demonstrated that the mechanism of suppression dampens the activation of the inappropriate meanings of ambiguous words; they do not decrease in activation simply because their activation is consumed by appropriate meanings or because they decay. A second series of experiments investigated the role of suppression in improving the accessibility of concepts marked by cataphoric devices. Cataphoric devices are counterparts to anaphoric devices: Anaphoric devices mark concepts that have been mentioned before, and cataphoric devices mark concepts that are likely to be mentioned again. The results demonstrated that when concepts are marked with cataphoric devices, like spoken stress and the indefinite this, they are better at suppressing the activation of other concepts, and they are more resistant to being suppressed by other concepts. A third series of experiments investigated the role of suppression and enhancement in adult comprehension skill. The results demonstrated that less-skilled comprehenders less-efficiently suppress the inappropriate meanings of ambiguous words, the incorrect forms of homophones, the typical-but-absent members of scenes, and words superimposed on pictures or pictures surrounding words. (SDW).
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