Distinguishing the time course of lexical and discourse processes through context, coreference, and quantified expressions.
How does prior context influence lexical and discourse-level processing during real-time language comprehension? Experiment 1 examined whether the referential ambiguity introduced by a repeated, anaphoric expression had an immediate or delayed effect on lexical and discourse processing, using an eye-tracking-while-reading task. Eye movements indicated facilitated recognition of repeated expressions, suggesting that prior context can rapidly influence lexical processing. However, context effects at the discourse level affected later processing, appearing in longer regression-path durations 2 words after the anaphor and in greater rereading times of the antecedent expression. Experiments 2 and 3 explored the nature of this delay by examining the role of the preceding context in activating relevant representations. Offline and online interpretations confirmed that relevant referents were activated following the critical context. Nevertheless, their initial unavailability during comprehension suggests a robust temporal division between lexical and discourse-level processing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2011 APA, all rights reserved)