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Title:The Effects of Focus During Sentence Comprehension
Author(s):Birch, Stacy Lynette
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Garnsey, Susan,
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Psychology, Experimental
Abstract:In a series of experiments I investigated the effects of linguistic focus on people's memory for words in sentences. I tested whether using phrases like "It was the ... " and "There was this ... " to focus on a particular word, enhances memory for particular types of information about the word, including its identity and its phonological and semantic characteristics. In each of four experiments, subjects read sentences that varied according to whether or not they placed a single, critical word (the prime) in focus. Each sentence was followed, either immediately, or after a delay, by a target word that subjects responded to in a speeded recognition task (Experiments 1 and 4), a naming task (Experiment 3), or both (Experiment 2). The results indicated that the identity of a word was consistently better remembered when it had been focused (Experiments 1-4). Also, phonological information about the words was found to be better remembered for focused words in the naming task (Experiment 3) and in the delayed recognition task (Experiment 4), but not in the immediate recognition task (Experiment 1). Memory for semantic information about words was not affected by focus. The results suggest that placing a word in focus enhances memory not for semantic information, which is ordinarily well-remembered anyway, but for word-identity and phonological information, i.e., two types of information that ordinarily are not well-remembered.
Issue Date:1993
Description:127 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9328973
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:1993

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