Time-driven effects on parsing during reading

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The phonological trace of perceived words starts fading away in short-term memory after a few seconds. Spoken utterances are usually 2–3 s long, possibly to allow the listener to parse the words into coherent prosodic phrases while they still have a clear representation. Results from this brain potential study suggest that even during silent reading, words are organized into 2–3 s long ‘implicit’ prosodic phrases. Participants read the same sentences word by word at different presentation rates. Clause-final words occurring at multiples of 2–3 s from sentence onset yielded increased positivity, irrespective of presentation rate. The effect was interpreted as a closure positive shift (CPS), reflecting insertion of implicit prosodic phrase boundaries every 2–3 s. Additionally, in participants with low working memory span, clauses over 3 s long produced a negativity, possibly indicating increased working memory load.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics
  • Psychology


  • Language, Short-term memory, Time-driven constant, Event-related potentials, Reading, Prosodic phrase, Implicit prosody, CPS, Working memory
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-272
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Linguistics and Phonetics (015010003), Department of Psychology (012010000)

Related projects

View all (2)