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3. Psychological Mechanisms

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York University
PSYC 3290
Raluca Barac

3. Psychological Mechanisms Thursday, January 17, 2013 8:30 AM For Exam: Chapter 3 pp. 46-59 only Main points  The act of comprehending and producing language are performed within the constraints of our information-processing system. This system consists of working memory and long-term memory. Long-term memory comprises episodic and semantic memory.  A number of issues regarding language processing have been raised. These include whether we primarily use serial or parallel processes, whether we tend to use top- down or bottom-up processes, whether language processes are primarily automatic or controlled, and the extent to which language processing displays modularity.  Children appear to process information very differently than adults, but studies of the development of the processing system suggest that most of the system is developmentally invariant. Introduction  Some important issues is psycholinguistics are not fully addressed in linguistic accounts of language, such as the issue of language processing  Language processing is a joint product of linguistic principles and psychological mechanisms The information-processing system  Contemporary study of memory and information processing began in the late 1950s Working memory  Working memory-- a form of memory with both storage and processing functions. Working memory is used to hold information for a short period of time as well as to perform various operations on the stored information o "The temporary storage of information that is being processed in any range of cognitive tasks"  Many cognitive processes require that we hold onto information for a short period of time  Working memory is measured in several ways o Memory span test-- participants are given a series of items (words, letters, numbers, and so forth) and asked to recall the items in the order presented (or in backwards order)  A person's memory span is the number of items that can be reliably recalled in the correct order  The Baddeley-Hitch Model (1974) o Three components:  1) Central executive  A limited capacity pool of general processing resources  The assumption is that we are limited in terms of the number of things we can do at once  Determines what activities the slave systems should be doing at any given time  2) Visuospatial sketchpad  Temporarily maintains and manipulates visuospatial information  3) Phonological loop  Phonological store-- holds phonological representations for a brief period of time  Articulatory rehearsal system-- enables us to rehearse materials, thus prolonging their stay in the phonological store o The latter two systems are sometimes referred to as "slave systems" to the central executive o This model assumes that there are phonological representations of both auditory and visual materials  Tests of the model o Predictions of the Baddeley-Hitch Model:  When people make errors in working memory tasks, the errors tend to be in the direction of similar sounds  This prediction is supported by research  If a person was asked to remember letters while, at the same time, speaking some sounds over and over, this would be very difficult because such tasks occupy the articulatory loop  Word-length effect-- the number of words remembered in a memory span study are related to the length of the words (the real correlation is to the amount of time that it takes to pronounce the word) o Research indicates that storage and processing functions compete for limited resources, supporting the Baddeley-Hitch Model o Stroop task-- a task in which color words are written in noncongruent colors and participants are asked to name the color, not read the word  Participants with large working memories perform better on this task o Individuals with large working memory perform better on an antisaccade task-- as task in which individuals fixate in the middle of a visual display but must respond to a target that is presented to the left or right of the fixation point o The Stroop and antisaccade tasks depend on attention control o To a considerable extent, research is consistent with the original Baddeley- Hitch Model Long-term memory  Long-term memory-- a memory structure that holds permanent knowledge o Two aspects of long-term memory:  Episodic memory-- deals with personally experienced facts  Semantic memory-- deals with general facts  Semantic memory o Semantic memory refers to our organized knowledge of words, concepts, symbols, and objects
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