Attention, Working Memory, and Grammaticality Judgment in Typical Young Adults

Smith, Pamela A.
June 2011
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Jun2011, Vol. 54 Issue 3, p918
Academic Journal
Purpose: To examine resource allocation and sentence processing, this study examined the effects of auditory distraction on grammaticality judgment (GJ) of sentences varied by semantics (reversibility) and short-term memory requirements. Method: Experiment 1: Typical young adult females (N = 60) completed a whole-sentence GJ task in distraction (Quiet, Noise, or Talk). Participants judged grammaticality of Passive sentences varied by sentence ( length), grammaticality, and reversibility. Reaction time ( RT) data were analyzed using a mixed analysis of variance. Experiment 2: A similar group completed a self-paced reading GJ task using the similar materials. Results: Experiment 1: Participants responded faster to Bad and to Nonreversible sentences, and in the Talk distraction. The slowest RTs were noted for Good-Reversible-Padded sentences in the Quiet condition. Experiment 2: Distraction did not differentially affect RTs for sentence components. Verb RTs were slower for Reversible sentences. Conclusions: Results suggest that narrative distraction affected GJ, but by speeding responses, not slowing them. Sentence variables of memory and reversibility slowed RTs, but narrative distraction resulted in faster processing times regardless of individual sentence variables. More explicit, deliberate tasks (self-paced reading) resulted in less effect from distraction. Results are discussed in terms of recent theories about auditory distraction.


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