Memory & Cognition

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 198–211 | Cite as

Semantic context influences memory for verbs more than memory for nouns

  • Alan W. KerstenEmail author
  • Julie L. Earles


Three experiments revealed that memory for verbs is more dependent on semantic context than is memory for nouns. The participants in Experiment 1 were asked to remember either nouns or verbs from intransitive sentences. A recognition test included verbatim sentences, sentences with an old noun and a new verb, sentences with an old verb and a new noun, and entirely new sentences. Memory for verbs was significantly better when the verb was presented with the same noun at encoding and at retrieval. This contextual effect was much smaller for nouns. Experiments 2 and 3 replicated this effect and provided evidence that context effects reflect facilitation from bringing to mind the same meaning of a verb at encoding and at retrieval. Memory for verbs may be more dependent on semantic context because the meanings of verbs are more variable across semantic contexts than are the meanings of nouns.


False Alarm Target Word Word Type Semantic Context Noun Pair 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca Raton
  2. 2.Wilkes Honors College at Florida Atlantic UniversityJupiter

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