Cognitive Psychology provides student readers with essential help with all aspects of their first course in cognitive psychology, including advice on revising for exams, preparing and writing course assessment materials, and enhancing and progressing their knowledge and skills in line with course requirements in cognitive psychology.

Language Comprehension

Language comprehension

Core Areas

  • Bridging inferences
  • Capacity theory
  • Coherence assumption
  • Constraint-based theory
  • Discourse processing
  • Effort-after-meaning
  • Elaborated propositional net
  • Elaborative inferences
  • Event indexing model
  • Explanation assumption
  • Garden path model
  • Illocutionary force
  • Locutionary force
  • Minimalist hypothesis
  • Parsing
  • Perlocutionary force
  • Pragmatics
  • Proposition
  • Propositional net
  • Propositional representation
  • Reader goal assumption
  • Reconstructive memory
  • Schema
  • Script-pointer-plus-tag hypothesis
  • Search-after-meaning theory
  • Semantic representation
  • Sentence processing
  • Situational representation
  • Surface representation

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this chapter you should be able to:

  • define the key terms outlined above;
  • understand that language comprehension can be viewed by looking at sentence processing (garden path, constraint-based and capacity theories), discourse processing (search-after-meaning and minimalist hypothesis) and story processing (schema and script-pointer-plus-tag explanations, discourse processing, construction integration and event indexing theories); and
  • show an awareness of the strengths and weaknesses offered in terms of explaining language comprehension.

Running Themes

  • Bottom-up processing
  • Ecological validity
  • Experimental cognitive psychology
  • Gestalt psychology
  • Schema
  • Semantics
  • Top-down processing


Sentence Processing

Sentence processing involves:

  • Analysis of syntax – or grammatical structure (‘set of rules’): this is known ...
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