Mental models contribute to foregrounding during text comprehension

Arthur Glenberg, Marion Meyer, Karen Lindem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

376 Scopus citations


A primary property of mental models is that they represent what the text is about (the events, objects, and processes described in the text), rather than features of the text itself. We used this property to demonstrate that mental models are operative during text comprehension. Subjects read texts that were propositionally equivalent, but described events in which the main actor was either spatially associated with a target object or spatially dissociated from the object. Pronominal reference kept the actor foregrounded throughout the text, but the target object was never repeated. The question of interest was whether the target object remained foregrounded when the text described events in which the actor and the object were spatially associated. Data from experiments using item recognition and reading time measures provided an affirmative answer. Thus the mental model controlling foregrounding reflected the structure of the events described by the text, not just the structure of the text.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-83
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language

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