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Verbal Working Memory and Sentence Comprehension

Caplan, David and Waters, Gloria (1998) Verbal Working Memory and Sentence Comprehension. [Preprint]

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Abstract

This target article discusses the verbal working memory system used in sentence comprehension. We review the idea of working memory as a short duration system in which small amounts of information are simultaneously stored and manipulated in the service of a task and that syntactic processing in sentence comprehension requires such a storage and computational system. We inquire whether the working memory system used in syntactic processing is the same as that used in verbally mediated tasks involving conscious, controlled processing. Various forms of evidence are considered: the relationship between individual differences in working memory and individual differences in the efficiency of syntactic processing; the effect of concurrent verbal memory load on syntactic processing; and syntactic processing in patients with poor short term memory, poor working memory, or aphasia. The experimental results suggest that the verbal working memory system specialized for assigning the syntactic structure of a sentence and for using that structure in determining sentence meaning is distinct from the working memory system that underlies the use of sentence meaning to accomplish further functions. We present a theory of the components of the verbal working memory system and suggestions as to its neural basis.

Item Type:Preprint
Keywords:working memory, syntactic processing, sentence comprehension
Subjects:Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
Linguistics > Syntax
Neuroscience > Neuropsychology
ID Code:623
Deposited By:Caplan, David
Deposited On:31 Mar 1998
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:54

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