Mental models in narrative comprehension

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Science  05 Jan 1990:
Vol. 247, Issue 4938, pp. 44-48
DOI: 10.1126/science.2403694


Readers of stories construct mental models of the situation and characters described. They infer causal connections relating characters' actions to their goals. They also focus attention on characters' movements, thereby activating nearby parts of the mental model. This activation is revealed in readers' faster answering of questions about such parts, with less facilitation the greater their distance from the focus. Recently visited as well as imagined locations are also activated for several seconds. These patterns of temporary activation facilitate comprehension.

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