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Time-driven effects on parsing during reading

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kai Alter


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The phonological trace of perceived words starts fading away in short-term memory after a few seconds. Spoken utterances are usually 2-3 s long, possibly to allow the listener to parse the words into coherent prosodic phrases while they still have a clear representation. Results from this brain potential study suggest that even during silent reading, words are organized into 2-3 s long 'implicit' prosodic phrases. Participants read the same sentences word by word at different presentation rates. Clause-final words occurring at multiples of 2-3 s from sentence onset yielded increased positivity, irrespective of presentation rate. The effect was interpreted as a closure positive shift (CPS), reflecting insertion of implicit prosodic phrase boundaries every 2-3 s. Additionally, in participants with low working memory span, clauses over 3 s long produced a negativity, possibly indicating increased working memory load. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Roll M, Lindgren M, Alter K, Horne M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Brain and Language

Year: 2012

Volume: 121

Issue: 3

Pages: 267-272

Print publication date: 03/04/2012

ISSN (print): 0093-934X

ISSN (electronic): 1090-2155

Publisher: Academic Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.bandl.2012.03.002


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Funder referenceFunder name
Erik-Philip Sorensen Foundation
70175901Swedish Research Council
349-2007-8695Swedish Research Council