Interpreting sentences as part of a larger discourse requires evaluating information in the sentence against the current discourse representation. This paper examines the time course of such sentence resolution processes in two eye-tracking experiments. The experimental passages contained verbs depicting contextually congruent or incongruent events depending upon which of two possible antecedents were assigned to an anaphor. In Experiment 1, immediate effects of detecting the incongruence were found in first pass fixations on the verb but only when the sentences contained pronouns referring unambiguously to focused discourse antecedents. In Experiment 2 where matching name and definite description anaphors were used, the congruence effects were delayed until the second pass refixations of the verb and anaphor. The results are interpreted in relation to the different discourse roles played by different anaphoric devices and considered in relation to Sanford and Garrod′s (1981) Memory Focus model.
Garrod, S., Freudenthal, D., & Boyle, E. (1994). The role of different types of anaphor in the on line resolution of sentences in a discourse. Journal of Memory and Language, 33(1), 39-68. https://doi.org/10.1006/jmla.1994.1003