Language Comprehension as Structure Building
Final technical rept. 1 Feb 1989-31 Jul 1991
OREGON UNIV EUGENE DEPT OF PSYCHOLOGY
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This research investigated language comprehension, and in particular, the general, cognitive processes and mechanisms that underlie language comprehension. These general, processes and mechanisms were investigated using a simple framework Gernsbacher 1990 refers to as the Structure Building Framework. According to the Structure Building Framework, the goal of comprehension is to build a coherent, mental representation of structure. To do this, comprehenders must first lay a foundation. Next, they develop the structure by mapping on information when that incoming information is coherent or related to previous information. However, if the incoming information is less coherent or related, comprehenders shift to initiate a new substructure. Thus, most representations comprise several branching substructures. These structure building processes are accomplished by two mechanisms enhancement, which boosts the activation of some representations, and suppression, which dampens the activation of other representations.