In the context in which it appears, “temporal” most nearly means

In the 1980s, neuroscientists studying the brain processes underlying our sense of conscious will compared subjects’ judgments regarding their subjective will to move (W) and actual movement (M) with objective electroencephalographic activity called readiness potential, or RP. As expected, W preceded M: subjects consciously perceived the intention to move as preceding a conscious experience of actually moving. This might seem to suggest an appropriate correspondence between the sequence of subjective experiences and the sequence of the underlying events in the brain. But researchers actually found a surprising temporal relation between subjective experience and objectively measured neural events: in direct contradiction of the classical conception of free will, neural preparation to move (RP) preceded conscious awareness of the intention to move (W) by hundreds of milliseconds.

In the context in which it appears, “temporal” most nearly means

  1. secular
  2. mundane
  3. numerical
  4. physiological
  5. chronological

An important thing to keep in mind about the Reading Comprehension section of the GRE as we use PowerPrep online to study is that it is just that—reading comprehension. In other words, as difficult as it may seem, and it can be pretty tricky, the test makers will always give us all the information we need in the passage to answer the question. Word in context questions, like question 18 of the first Verbal section on practice test 1, are a key example of why the answer MUST come from the context.

Alright, our approach to this should actually be fairly similar to our approach to a text completion question. Before we look at the answers, we should examine the context and predict what might be a good answer.

“This might seem to suggest an appropriate correspondence between the sequence of subjective experiences and the sequence of the underlying events in the brain. But researchers actually found a surprising temporal relation between subjective experience and objectively measured neural events: in direct contradiction of the classical conception of free will, neural preparation to move (RP) preceded conscious awareness of the intention to move (W) by hundreds of milliseconds.”

Alright, it looks like the sentence JUST BEFORE our word was talking about an expected relationship between two sequences of events. This sentence, which begins “but,” contrasts by suggesting an unexpected relationship in a sequence of events. So a “temporal relation” must refer to what sequence events happen in relation to one another. We might predict a good answer might be similar to “sequential” to show that this is a “sequential” relation. (Also, we might know that the tempo part of this word likely means it relates to time. This is helpful information since it corroborates what we found in the passage, but it isn’t necessary and should NOT be what we base our prediction on—the question specifically asked how the word was used in context. Using our own definition of the word, then, could have negative results!)

secular

This word describes something that is not of a religious or spiritual basis. It does not fit our prediction or context, so A can be eliminated.

mundane

“Mundane” describes something commonplace, perhaps to the extent that it is boring. We can eliminate B since it doesn’t match the context.

numerical

Nope, the relationship described here is not one between numbers, so we can eliminate C.

physiological

As the root “physio” may imply, “physiological” relates to the functioning of organisms and their parts. This may seem to fit the context of our passage, which talks about a process that happens in the human brain, but it does not fit the specific context of this sentence. We can eliminate D.

chronological

AH! Chronos deals with “time,” and “chronological” describes the order of events in relation to time, or sequence. E perfectly fits our context! Wahoo! We got it! E is the correct answer.

Since we predicted an answer, it was easy to look down our answer choices and find the one that matched. Although we had to do a little more legwork, this actually saved us more time than if we had filled in each choice, and it also kept us from getting confused or making mistakes. E is correct.

 

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