Cognitive Psychology and Information Processing: An Introduction

By Janet L. Lachman; Roy Lachman et al. | Go to book overview

11
Comprehension From the
Psycholinguistic Viewpoint

ABSTRACT
I. Overview

Research and theory on comprehension grows from two different traditions. Some of the work comes from the psycholinguistic tradition and is a logical continuation of the work described in the previous chapter. Some emerges from the artificial-intelligence-plus-experimental-psychology tradition begun by Collins and Quillian and described in our chapter on Semantic Memory. This chapter describes the psycholinguistic approach to comprehension.

II. The Concept of the Synthesized Code

As interest turned away from syntactic theories and toward semantic issues, the field of psycholinguistics lost the unifying force of Chomsky's theories. Most contemporary researchers are interested in language comprehension, but no powerful model guides research. Several issues have emerged that can be grouped roughly into issues of form and issues of content. Some research concerns the form of a message when it has been understood, and some issues concern the content of the understood message. One relatively comprehensive model of conversational comprehension has been presented.

Information-processing psychologists believe that complex mental processes like comprehension involve a large number of unseen internal events that occur between input and observable response. These events include speech perception, parsing, word took-up, and many other things we have not yet thought of. We call these events, as a group, input synthesis. The end product of input synthesis is a representation that is compatible with the contents of permanent memory. We call this end product the synthesized code. Much research seeks to explain the form of the code or its contents.

III. The Form of the Synthesized Code

The major controversy regarding the form of the synthesized code is whether it is

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