The presence of an event in the narrated situation affects its availability to the comprehender

Mem Cognit. 2000 Sep;28(6):1022-8. doi: 10.3758/bf03209350.


Narrative descriptions of events often depart from how these events would have occurred in "real time." For example, narratives often contain time shifts in which events that are irrelevant to the plot are omitted. Zwaan (1996) has shown that these time shifts may affect on-line comprehension. Specifically, they are associated with increases in processing load and a deactivation of previous information. The experiments in the present article show that the situation is more complex. Specifically, there is only a deactivation of previous events if they are not assumed to be ongoing after a time shift. Furthermore, explicit discontinuations of events, as in he stopped walking also lead to deactivations when compared with explicit continuations and resumptions.

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Concept Formation*
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall
  • Reading*
  • Time Perception*