Disambiguation and Cognitive Control
The main questions driving research on ambiguity have been concerned with the processes that allow for selection of a particular meaning of an ambiguous word in context. As noted in several chapters of this volume, a number of processing models have been proposed to account for the data obtained in such investigations of “lexical ambiguity.” Of late, however, interest has begun to turn toward assessing the generality of results on lexical ambiguity for other levels of language processing. The connections among research findings on lexical ambiguity and findings at other levels of language comprehension range from fairly well developed for word recognition (e.g., Simpson, 1984) to only inchoate development at sentence and passage levels. Yet these higher levels also have problems of indeterminacy of meaning that deserve attention (cf. Seidenberg, 1985; Simpson, Burgess, & Peterson, 1988). The problem is not so much the failure of psycholinguists to consider other types of ambiguity as it is the failure to integrate research on different levels of language comprehension. To be more precise, several aspects of the general problem of indeterminacy of meaning have been addressed in psychological research, but often such work is not labeled ambiguity research, and it is frequently done without any attempt to consider how the processes uncovered may overlap with those elucidated by work on lexical ambiguity.
KeywordsCognitive Control Ambiguity Resolution Ambiguous Word Work Memory Span Reading Span
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