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Enhancement and suppression effects resulting from information structuring in sentences

Sanford, Alison J. S. and Price, Jessica and Sanford, Anthony J. (2009) Enhancement and suppression effects resulting from information structuring in sentences. Memory and Cognition, 37 (6). pp. 880-888.

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Abstract

Information structuring through the use of cleft sentences increases the processing efficiency of references to elements within the scope of focus. Furthermore, there is evidence that putting certain types of emphasis on individual words not only enhances their subsequent processing, but also protects these words from becoming suppressed in the wake of subsequent information, suggesting mechanisms of enhancement and suppression. In Experiment 1, we showed that clefted constructions facilitate the integration of subsequent sentences that make reference to elements within the scope of focus, and that they decrease the efficiency with reference to elements outside of the scope of focus. In Experiment 2, using an auditory text-change-detection paradigm, we showed that focus has similar effects on the strength of memory representations. These results add to the evidence for enhancement and suppression as mechanisms of sentence processing and clarify that the effects occur within sentences having a marked focus structure.