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The role of working memory in the processing of reflexives

Cunnings, I. and Felser, C. (2013) The role of working memory in the processing of reflexives. Language and Cognitive Processes, 28 (1-2). pp. 188-219. ISSN 0169-0965

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/01690965.2010.548391

Abstract/Summary

We report results from two eye-movement experiments that examined how differences in working memory (WM) capacity affect readers' application of structural constraints on reflexive anaphor resolution during sentence comprehension. We examined whether binding Principle A, a syntactic constraint on the interpretation of reflexives, is reducible to a memory friendly “recency” strategy, and whether WM capacity influences the degree to which readers create anaphoric dependencies ruled out by binding theory. Our results indicate that low and high WM span readers applied Principle A early during processing. However, contrary to previous findings, low span readers also showed immediate intrusion effects of a linearly closer but structurally inaccessible competitor antecedent. We interpret these findings as indicating that although the relative prominence of potential antecedents in WM can affect online anaphor resolution, Principle A is not reducible to a processing or linear distance based “least effort” constraint.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Language and Cognition
ID Code:34390
Publisher:Tayor & Francis

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