Keeping track of spatial information in reading comprehension

Date of Award

Spring 2010

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Edward J. O'Brien


Because readers have limited capacity to attend to information during reading, they must be strategic in deciding what information is most likely to facilitate comprehension. Previous findings suggest readers track spatial information, although there is inconsistency as to the nature of this tracking.

In the first three experiments, levels of cueing to the protagonist as well as objects in relation to the protagonist were systematically manipulated. The results showed that the participants were indeed aware of the spatial information. However, in Experiment 4, when all cues were removed participants were no longer aware of the spatial information. In a fifth experiment participants were again aware of the spatial information even when there were no spatial cues as long as they were asked to take the perspective of the protagonist. The results are discussed within a memory-based view of text processing.

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