Use of cognitive capacity in reading identical texts with different amounts of discourse level meaning

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Abstract

Experiment I with 98 undergraduates measured the use of cognitive capacity in reading in pairs of passages that differed in the quantity of meaning they contained but were equal in word length, word frequency, sentence length, and grammatical complexity. The passages were visually identical, except that one passage had a title that related the sentences to each other and gave them meaning as a discourse, whereas the other lacked the title and had less discourse level meaning. The main finding was that cognitive capacity was filled more completely in reading passages with more discourse level meaning. In Exp II, capacity was measured in passages that had meaning with or without a title. Titles were provided in one group but not in the other. The titles had no effect. Findings are consistent with the hypothesis that cognitive capacity is used in the comprehension of the discourse level meaning of text. A secondary task technique was used to measure the use of cognitive capacity. (18 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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