The Time Course of Generating Causal Antecedent and Causal Consequence Inferences


The present study tested whether causal antecedent and causal consequence inferences are generated on-line during comprehension and also determined the time course of their activation. The study manipulated inference category, the rate of word presentation in a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) format, and the delay between the last word in a sentence and the test word (i.e., SOA interval). Lexical decision latencies were collected on test strings (i.e., nonwords, inference words, or unrelated words) which were presented after each sentence in the passages. The results indicated that there was a threshold of 400 ms after stimulus presentation (RSVP and SOA) before causal antecedents were generated on-line, whereas causal consequences were not generated on-line. These results support a bridging model of inference generation which assumes that causal antecedent inferences are needed to bridge an explicit text event with prior passage content, whereas expectation inferences are not normally generated on-line. © 1993, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Discourse Processes