Tackling the Toolkit pp 151–⁠162
The Influence of Verse on Cognitive Processes: A Psycholinguistic Experiment
Tatyana Skulacheva, Natalia Slioussar, Alexander Kostyuk, Anna Lipina, Emil Latypov, Varvara Koroleva


Modern psycho- and neurolinguistics use standards of precision typical of the natural sciences. As verse scholarship also bases its standards on those of the natural sciences, it can be combined fruitfully with the natural sciences, including neuroscience. This may ultimately allow us to answer the fundamental question of how verse and prose are processed in the brain. In this paper, we present the preliminary results of our project that aims to uncover how verse’s effects on cognitive processes compare to those of prose. We conducted 3 experiments with 110 informants who were native speakers of Russian between 18 and 55 years old. These experiments had the same design but involved different stimulus texts and groups of informants (40+40+30). Informants are known to slow down their reading considerably if they detect a textual error. Our aim was to compare the reading times for different verse and prose fragments when they contained errors and when they were error-free. We found that errors in verse remain undetected while the same errors are easily perceived in a corresponding prose text. The observation of this phenomenon in all three experiments is important proof of its validity. We suggest that prose and verse differently activate two ways of processing information in the brain: the first way is logical and relies on critical thinking including error detection, while the second is associative and depends on mental imagery rather than sequential logic.


Skulacheva, T., Slioussar, N., Kostyuk, A., Lipina, A., Latypov, E., & Koroleva, V. (2021). The Influence of Verse on Cognitive Processes: A Psycholinguistic Experiment. In P. Plecháč, R. Kolár, A. Bories, & J. Říha (Eds.), Tackling the Toolkit: Plotting Poetry through Computational Literary Studies (pp. 151–162). Prague: ICL CAS. doi: 10.51305/ICL.CZ.9788076580336.10


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