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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach

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Academic Paper


Title: How Children Process Over-Regularizations: Evidence from event-related brain potentials
Author: Harald Clahsen
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://privatewww.essex.ac.uk/~harald/
Institution: Universität Potsdam
Author: Monika Lück
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences
Author: Anja Hahne
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics
Abstract: This study examines the mental processes involved in children's on-line recognition of inflected word forms using event-related potentials (ERPs). Sixty children in three age groups (20 six- to seven-year-olds, 20 eight- to nine-year-olds, 20 eleven- to twelve-year-olds) and 23 adults (tested in a previous study) listened to sentences containing correct or incorrect German noun plural forms. In the two older child groups, as well as in the adult group, over-regularized plural forms elicited brain responses that are characteristic of combinatorial (grammatical) violations. We also found that ERP components associated with language processing change from child to adult with respect to their onsets and their topography. The ERP violation effects obtained for over-regularizations suggest that children (aged eight years and above) and adults employ morphological computation for processing purposes, consistent with dual-mechanism models of inflection. The observed differences between children's and adults' ERP responses are argued to result from children's smaller lexicons and from slower and less efficient processing.

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This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 34, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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