Verbal learning meets psycholinguistics: Modality effects in the comprehension of anaphora

Jola Jakimik, Arthur Glenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Understanding an anaphor like "the latter approach" requires that the reader or listener remember the tempral order of the potential antecedents. According to Glenberg and Swanson's temporal distinctiveness theory, the representation of temporal order is more accurate with auditory presentation than with visual presentation, and this difference is the basis for the modality effect (recently presented auditory information is better recalled than recently presented visual information). We tested this account of modality effects by having subjects listen to or read paragraphs which contained two types of anaphors. Consistent with temporal distinctiveness theory, the resolution of temporal anaphors (e.g., "the latter approach") showed the modality effect, whereas the resolution of semantically based anaphors (e.g., "the medical approach") did not. We discuss the implications of this result for understanding the modality effect, the interface between psycholinguistic and memory research, and differences between comprehension of spoken and written language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)582-590
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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