Executive control is shared between sentence processing and digit maintenance: Evidence from a strictly timed dual-task paradigm

Maaike Loncke, Timothy Desmet, André Vandierendonck, Robert J. Hartsuiker
2011 Journal of Cognitive Psychology  
We investigated whether the comprehension of syntactically difficult sentences taxes the executive control component of working memory more than the comprehension of their easier counterparts. To that end, we tested the effect of sharing executive control between sentence comprehension and the maintenance of a digit load in two dual-task experiments with strictly controlled timing (Barrouillet, Bernardin, & Camos, 2004) . Recall was worse after participants had processed one (Experiment 2) or
more » ... o (Experiment 1) difficult sentences than after they had processed one or two easy sentences, respectively. This finding suggests that sentence processing and the maintenance of a digit load share executive control. Processing syntactically difficult sentences seems to occupy executive control for a longer time than processing their easy counterparts, thereby blocking refreshments of the memory traces of the digits so that these traces decay more and recall is worse. There was no effect of the size of the digit load on sentence processing performance (Experiment 2), suggesting that sentence processing completely occupied executive control until processing was complete.
doi:10.1080/20445911.2011.586625 fatcat:tv6wxgwdf5ez7nmg74zpun3yme