Abstract: Attenuating interference during comprehension: The role of suppression

GERNSBACHER, M. A. (1997). Attenuating interference during comprehension: The role of suppression. In D. L. Medin (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation. (pp. 85-104). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

The goal of my research is to identify the cognitive processes and mechanisms that underlie language comprehension and comprehension in general. I have identified a few of those processes and mechanisms in a framework I call the Structure Building Framework (Gernsbacher, 1990, 1991a, 1995). According to the Structure Building Framework, the goal of comprehension is to build coherent mental representations or structures. These structures represent clauses, sentences, paragraphs, passages, and other meaningful units. To build these structures, first, comprehenders lay foundations for their mental structures (Carreiras, Gernsbacher, & Villa, 1995; Gernsbacher & Hargreaves, 1988, 1992; Gernsbacher Hargreaves, & Beeman, 1989). Then comprehenders develop their mental structures by mapping on information, when that incoming information coheres or relates to the previous information (Deaton & Gernsbacher, in press; Gernsbacher, 1996; Gernsbacher & Givon, 1995; Gernsbacher & Robertson, 1992; Haenggi, Gernsbacher, & Bolliger, 1993;Haenggi, Kintsch, & Gernsbacher, 1995). However, if the incoming information is less coherent, comprehenders employ a different process: They shift and initiate a new substructure (Foertsch & Gernsbacher, 1994; Gernsbacher, 1985). So, most mental representations comprise several branching substructures.