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Title:What happened (and what didn't): prominence promotes representation of salient alternatives in discourse
Author(s):Fraundorf, Scott
Director of Research:Watson, Duane G.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Watson, Duane G.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Benjamin, Aaron S.; Federmeier, Kara D.; Dell, Gary S.; Stine-Morrow, Elizabeth A.L.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):pitch accenting
language comprehension
cognitive aging
recognition memory
Abstract:In five experiments, I investigated how readers and listeners generate relevant contrasts in comprehending and remembering discourse. Past work has suggested that prominent words promote encoding of salient alternatives and that this benefits later memory, but it is unclear exactly which alternatives are considered or how consistent these benefits are across modalities and across individuals. Participants read or listened to discourses containing salient alternatives (e.g., Malaysia when the discourse also mentioned Indonesia). In Experiments 1 and 2, font emphasis in the initial presentation facilitated participants’ ability to later reject the salient alternatives but not unmentioned items (e.g., Portuguese scientists), generalizing past effects of contrastive pitch accents. In Experiment 3, font emphasis facilitated rejections of salient alternatives but not less plausible alternatives that were nevertheless mentioned in the discourse. Online reading time measures in Experiment 2 indicated that emphasized words did not improve performance on all trials and only benefited memory to the extent that participants devoted extra time to them, although no such relation was observed in Experiment 3. The relationship of online reading time to later memory is consistent with views of language processing in which some aspects of linguistic representations may be left underspecified because they are time- or resource-consuming to generate. Further, the effortful processing of an alternative impaired memory for the rest of the discourse in populations with more restricted online processing abilities: older adults (Experiment 4) and younger adults who have lower scores on complex span scores (Experiment 5).
Issue Date:2012-09-18
Rights Information:Copyright © 2012 Scott Fraundorf. Chapters 4 and 5 were adapted from previously published material. Copyright © 2012 by the American Psychological Association. Adapted with permission. The official citation that should be used in referencing this material is Fraundorf, S. H., Watson D. G., & Benjamin A. S. (2012). The effects of age on the strategic use of pitch accents in memory for discourse: A processing- resource account. Psychology and Aging, 27, 88-98. doi: 10.1037/a0024138. The use of this information does not imply endorsement by the publisher.
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-09-18
Date Deposited:2012-08

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