Figure 129

Forgetting functions for situation, proposition, and surface information over a four-day period. Adapted from Kintsch et al. (1990).

• Sentences in the text are turned into propositions representing the meaning of the text.

• These propositions are entered into a short-term buffer and form a propositional net.

• Each proposition constructed from the text retrieves a few associatively related propositions (including inferences) from long-term memory.

• The propositions constructed from the text plus those retrieved from long-term memory jointly form the elaborated propositional net; this net will usually contain many irrelevant propositions.

• A spreading activation process is then used to select propositions for the text representation; clusters of highly interconnected propositions attract most of the activation and have the greatest probability of inclusion in the text representation, whereas irrelevant propositions are likely to be discarded: "things that belong together contextually become stronger, and things that do not, die off" (Kintsch, 1994, p. 732): this is the integration process.

• The text representation is an organised structure which is stored in episodic text memory; information about the relationship between any two propositions is included if the two propositions were processed together in the short-term buffer.

• As a result of these processes, three levels of representation are constructed: surface representation (the text itself); propositional representation or textbase (propositions formed from the text); and situational representation (a mental model describing the situation referred to in the text). Schemas can be used as building blocks for the construction of situational representations or models.

One of the most distinctive features of this model is the assumption that the processes involved in the construction of the elaborated propositional net are relatively inefficient, with many irrelevant propositions being included. This is basically a bottom-up approach, in that the elaborated propositional net is constructed without taking account of the context provided by the overall theme of the text. In contrast, as Kintsch, Welsch, Schmalhofer, and Zimny (1990, p. 136) pointed out, "most other models of comprehension attempt to specify strong, 'smart' rules which, guided by schemata, arrive at just the right interpretations, activate just the right knowledge, and generate just the right inferences." According to Kintsch et al. (1990), such strong rules would need to be very complex, and they might prove insufficiently

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