Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 43, Issue 6, pp 839–853 | Cite as

Working Memory Mechanism in Proportional Quantifier Verification

  • Marcin ZajenkowskiEmail author
  • Jakub Szymanik
  • Maria Garraffa


The paper explores the cognitive mechanisms involved in the verification of sentences with proportional quantifiers (e.g. “More than half of the dots are blue”). The first study shows that the verification of proportional sentences is more demanding than the verification of sentences such as: “There are seven blue and eight yellow dots”. The second study reveals that both types of sentences are correlated with memory storage, however, only proportional sentences are associated with the cognitive control. This result suggests that the cognitive mechanism underlying the verification of proportional quantifiers is crucially related to the integration process, in which an individual has to compare in memory the cardinalities of two sets. In the third study we find that the numerical distance between two cardinalities that must be compared significantly influences the verification time and accuracy. The results of our studies are discussed in the broader context of processing complex sentences.


Quantifiers Computational complexity Approximate number sense Working memory Cognitive control 



The work of the first author was supported by a Grant No. 2011/01/D/HS6/01920 funded by the National Science Centre in Poland. The second author would like to acknowledge a generous support of NWO Veni Grant 639.021.232.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcin Zajenkowski
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jakub Szymanik
    • 2
  • Maria Garraffa
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of PsychologyUniversity of WarsawWarsawPoland
  2. 2.Institute for Logic, Language and ComputationUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.School of Education, Communication and Language SciencesNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

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