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Relational information in sentence memory

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Abstract

This paper is concerned with the coding and retrieval of relational or case information in sentences. Two experiments test the strong dependence hypothesis that relational information is checked in a secondary stage following the retrieval of facts from memory, where facts are retrieved on the basis of concept-overlap alone. In particular, memory for agent and object relational information in simple reversible sentences was investigated. The first experiment showed that relational information affected the reaction time and accuracy of the falsification of sentences that could have been rejected on the basis of content information alone. The second experiment approached the same issues using a recall procedure. It demonstrated the existence of some relational memory, even in the absence of any content recall. Both sets of data argued against the dependence hypothesis, but were compatible with the hypothesis that relational information is neither dependent on, nor secondary to, content information. The current findings and previous results concerning the impact of relational distinctions on interference effects are discussed in the context of the desirable properties of information retrieval systems.

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Research supported by Grant NIE-G-80-0175 and by a grant from the Spencer Foundation.

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Dosher, B.A. Relational information in sentence memory. J Psycholinguist Res 12, 377–396 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01067620

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Keywords

  • Reaction Time
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Content Information
  • Information Retrieval
  • Current Finding