Working memory mechanism in proportional quantifier verification

J Psycholinguist Res. 2014 Dec;43(6):839-53. doi: 10.1007/s10936-013-9281-3.


The paper explores the cognitive mechanisms involved in the verification of sentences with proportional quantifiers (e.g., "More than half of the dots are blue"). The first study shows that the verification of proportional sentences is more demanding than the verification of sentences such as: "There are seven blue and eight yellow dots". The second study reveals that both types of sentences are correlated with memory storage, however, only proportional sentences are associated with the cognitive control. This result suggests that the cognitive mechanism underlying the verification of proportional quantifiers is crucially related to the integration process, in which an individual has to compare in memory the cardinalities of two sets. In the third study we find that the numerical distance between two cardinalities that must be compared significantly influences the verification time and accuracy. The results of our studies are discussed in the broader context of processing complex sentences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Concept Formation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Linguistics
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time
  • Young Adult