Sequential Coherence in Sentence Pairs Enhances Imagery during Comprehension: An Individual Differences Study

PLoS One. 2015 Sep 18;10(9):e0138269. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0138269. eCollection 2015.


The present study investigates how sequential coherence in sentence pairs (events in sequence vs. unrelated events) affects the perceived ability to form a mental image of the sentences for both auditory and visual presentations. In addition, we investigated how the ease of event imagery affected online comprehension (word reading times) in the case of sequentially coherent and incoherent sentence pairs. Two groups of comprehenders were identified based on their self-reported ability to form vivid mental images of described events. Imageability ratings were higher and faster for pairs of sentences that described events in coherent sequences rather than non-sequential events, especially for high imagers. Furthermore, reading times on individual words suggested different comprehension patterns with respect to sequence coherence for the two groups of imagers, with high imagers activating richer mental images earlier than low imagers. The present results offer a novel link between research on imagery and discourse coherence, with specific contributions to our understanding of comprehension patterns for high and low imagers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Comprehension / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Individuality*
  • Language
  • Male
  • Reading*
  • Semantics*
  • Visual Perception / physiology
  • Writing
  • Young Adult

Grant support

This research was supported by funding from the French ANR Project "Comprendre" (PFD, JVD, CML), and from the European Community through grant FP7ICT-612139 Project "WYSIWYD" (PFD).