The interaction of different working memory mechanisms and sentence processing: A study of the P600

Abstract

While previous research has shown that working memory capacity (WMC) predicts sentence processing ability, the understanding of the relationship is limited as almost all studies have used the reading span task as their sole measure of WMC. The current study examined how the effects of garden-path sentences and filler-gap dependencies (as indexed by the P600) related to four measures of working memory (reading span, operation span, anti-saccade and n-back). P600 effects for garden-path sentences correlated positively with operation span score while effects for object relatives correlated negatively with n-back accuracy. These results indicate that, though both sentence types are associated with increased working memory demands, the resolution of temporary syntactic ambiguity and filler-gap dependencies recruit distinct working memory mechanisms.


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