What Is Language Comprehension in Cognitive Psychology?


Diego Sanchez

Language comprehension is a vital aspect of cognitive psychology. It refers to the process by which we understand and make sense of language.

This process involves various cognitive functions such as attention, perception, memory, and problem-solving. In this article, we will dive deeper into what language comprehension is and how it works.

The Basics of Language Comprehension

Language comprehension is the ability to understand spoken or written language. It involves several steps that occur almost simultaneously.

The first step is perception, where we hear or see the words being spoken or written. Next comes lexical processing, where we identify the words and their meanings. Finally, we integrate this information with our knowledge and experiences to comprehend the message being conveyed.

The Role of Attention in Language Comprehension

Attention plays a crucial role in language comprehension. It enables us to focus on specific aspects of the language input while ignoring irrelevant information. For example, when listening to someone speak in a noisy environment, our attention helps us filter out background noise and focus on the speaker’s voice.

The Importance of Memory in Language Comprehension

Memory also plays a significant role in language comprehension. We rely on our long-term memory to recognize words and their meanings quickly. Additionally, working memory allows us to hold information temporarily while integrating it with other incoming information.

Problem-Solving in Language Comprehension

Problem-solving skills are also essential for effective language comprehension. When we encounter unfamiliar words or concepts, we use problem-solving strategies to figure out their meaning based on context clues or other available information.

Factors Affecting Language Comprehension

Several factors can affect our ability to comprehend language effectively:

  • Language proficiency: Our proficiency in the language being used affects our ability to comprehend it effectively.
  • Context: The context in which language is used can affect our comprehension. For example, the same sentence can have different meanings depending on the context in which it is used.
  • Attention: As mentioned earlier, attention plays a crucial role in language comprehension. Distractions or lack of focus can affect comprehension.
  • Cognitive load: Trying to comprehend complex language while performing another task can increase cognitive load and affect comprehension.


In conclusion, language comprehension is a complex cognitive process that involves several steps and depends on various factors. Attention, memory, and problem-solving skills are crucial for effective language comprehension. By understanding the basics of language comprehension and the factors that affect it, we can improve our ability to understand and communicate effectively.