Contribution of Working Memory in the Parity and Proportional Judgments

Belgian Journal of Linguistics 25:189-206 (2011)
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Abstract

The paper presents an experimental evidence on differences in the sentence-picture verification under additional memory load between parity and proportional quantifiers. We asked subjects to memorize strings of 4 or 6 digits, then to decide whether a quantifier sentence is true at a given picture, and finally to recall the initially given string of numbers. The results show that: (a) proportional quantifiers are more difficult than parity quantifiers with respect to reaction time and accuracy; (b) maintaining either 4 or 6 elements in the working memory has the same effect on the processing of parity quantifiers; (c) however, in the case of proportional quantifiers subjects performed better in the verification tasks under the 6-digit load condition, and (d) even though the strings of 4 numbers were better recalled by subjects after judging parity there is no difference between quantifiers in the case of the 6-element condition. We briefly outline two alternative explanations for the observed phenomena rooted in the computational model of quantifier verification and the different theories of working memory.

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Jakub Szymanik
University of Amsterdam

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