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21 - Working Memory and High-Level Text Comprehension Processes

from Part IV - First Language Processing

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 July 2022

John W. Schwieter
Wilfrid Laurier University
Zhisheng (Edward) Wen
Hong Kong Shue Yan University
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The construction of a coherent text mental representation demands multiple comprehension processes such as the activation and maintenance of the most important ideas of the text, the retrieval of related information from long-term memory, the generation of information that has not been explicitly mentioned (e.g., inference making), the detection of possible inconsistencies, that is, , comprehension monitoring,, as well as the suppression of no longer relevant information (i.e., updating information). Although it is well known that working memory is essential for language comprehension, it is less clear how individual differences in working memory might explain high-level comprehension processes such as inference making, monitoring, and updating information. In the present chapter, we review some of the literature showing how these cognitive processes are supported by working memory during online comprehension in the first and second language. Overall, working memory is especially necessary when text comprehension requires updating of the situation model, by inhibiting no longer relevant competing information in the native language. In contrast, a more complex pattern results from text comprehension in a second language

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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