John D. Bransford and Marcia K. Johnson carried out an experiment whose main hypothesis was to investigate the relevance on contextual knowledge as a prerequisite towards understanding prose passages. This hypothesis was proposed after the two researchers observed that previous studies on the subject matter of the experiment had only sought to investigate whether comprehension was appraised by the degree of transformational linguistics employed.
The application of sentences had been proven to exhibit superficial as well as underlying structural components which could be employed to characterize the intent of the sentence. Bransford and Johanson thus sought to ascertain whether comprehension indeed employs recovery as well as interpretation of abstract underlying structural characteristics evident in sentences. Sentence memory on the other hand appertains to the retention of these underlying structural forms rather than the superficial structural forms.