Abstract: Skilled suppression

GERNSBACHER, M. A., & FAUST, M. (1995). Skilled suppression. In F. N. Dempster & C. N. Brainerd (Eds.), Interference and inhibition in cognition (pp. 295-327). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

In this chapter we explore the interference that often arises during comprehension. Consider, for example, the comprehension of a spoken or written sentence. Successful comprehension entails building a coherent mental representation from a string of serially presented words. Thus, at some level, individual words comprise a basis for building a mental representation of a sentence. However, even a brief examination of a dictionary documents that many English words are to some degree ambiguous; they have several, often distinct senses. Early “top-down” models of comprehension (e.g., Schank & Abelson, 1977) stressed the role of prior context; prior context constrained the semantic information that could be activated during word recognition, and thus the interference from different senses of a word was avoided.