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Retrieval interference and semantic interpretation

Cunnings, I. and Sturt, P. (2018) Retrieval interference and semantic interpretation. Journal of Memory and Language, 102. pp. 16-27. ISSN 0749-596X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.jml.2018.05.001

Abstract/Summary

Similarity-based interference has played an important role in motivating cue-based models of memory retrieval during language comprehension. One example of interference comes from illusions of grammaticality, where ungrammatical sentences are perceived as grammatical (e.g. ‘the key to the cabinets were rusty’). While such effects indicate interference influences perception of sentence grammaticality, less is known about how interference influences the semantic interpretation assigned to a sentence. We report two reading experiments that manipulated sentence plausibility, rather than grammaticality, as a diagnostic of interference. In both experiments, although reading times were longer for implausible sentences, this plausibility effect was reliably attenuated when a distractor item partially matched the cues at retrieval. We interpret these results as being compatible with the predictions of cue-based parsing. The illusions of plausibility that we report indicate that similarity-based retrieval interference has a potent influence on the semantic interpretation that is assigned to a sentence during processing.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
ID Code:73234
Publisher:Elsevier

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