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Syntactic parsing and working memory: The effects of syntactic complexity, reading span, and concurrent load

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Gunter,  Thomas C.
MPI of Cognitive Neuroscience (Leipzig, -2003), The Prior Institutes, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Friederici,  Angela D.
MPI of Cognitive Neuroscience (Leipzig, -2003), The Prior Institutes, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Vos, S. H., Gunter, T. C., Schriefers, H., & Friederici, A. D. (2001). Syntactic parsing and working memory: The effects of syntactic complexity, reading span, and concurrent load. Language and Cognitive Processes, 16(1), 65-103. doi:10.1080 /0169096004200008 5.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-DD76-F
Abstract
Event-relate d brain potential s (ERPs ) an d behavioura l measure s (reactio n time s an d errors ) were used to stud y the potentia l effect s of individua l difference s in verba l workin g memor y capacit y (low vs . high readin g span ) and a concurren t verba l workin g memor y loa d (lo w vs. hig h load) on th e processin g of sentence s wit h a loca l syntacti c ambiguit y in German . The sentence s wer e disambiguate d at the clause- Žnal auxiliar y to eithe r a subjec t relativ e (SR) claus e or to an objec t relativ e (OR ) clause . Th e processin g dif Žcult y fo r the OR as compare d to the SR clause s was reecte d in wors e off-lin e comprehensio n performance , particularl y for lo w span readers . Moreover , ERP s time-locke d to th e disambiguatin g auxiliar y showe d an earl y posterio r positivit y betwee n 200 –35 0 ms for OR clause s as compare d to SR clause s fo r high span readers . Lo w spa n readers , in contrast , showe d a late fronta l positivit y betwee n 500 and 800 ms. Whil e the early positivit y for high spa n reader s was independen t of th e concurren t load , th e late positivit y varie d as a functio n of concurren t load , being delaye d in th e hig h load condition . Thes e result s indicat e that syntacti c processe s in languag e comprehensio n are relate d to individua l difference s in parsin g strategies.