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Academic Paper


Title: Real-time sentence processing in children with specific language impairment: The contribution of lexicosemantic, syntactic, and world-knowledge information
Author: Fabrizio Pizzioli
Institution: Université Catholique de Louvain
Author: Marie-Anne Schelstraete
Institution: Université Catholique de Louvain
Linguistic Field: Psycholinguistics
Abstract: The present study investigated how lexicosemantic information, syntactic information, and world knowledge are integrated in the course of oral sentence processing in children with specific language impairment (SLI) as compared to children with typical language development. A primed lexical-decision task was used where participants had to make a lexical decision on the last word of a sentence. Thirty-nine children were tested: 13 children with SLI, 13 younger children matched on receptive vocabulary, and 13 age-matched children. We manipulated (a) the semantic fit between the target and the prime sentence, (b) the syntactic structure of the prime (syntactic vs. asyntactic), and (c) the lexical association between the target word and the prime. Despite being slower overall, children with SLI showed a significant priming effect. Syntactic information had a similar impact on thematic integration in control children and children with SLI, although the latter were more sensitive to lexicosemantic association and world knowledge than control groups. In addition, children with SLI appeared to use semantic information even when the sentence was asyntactic. The results suggest thematic integration problems in SLI: syntactic and semantic information contribute independently to the thematic structure but are not integrated to generate the emerging higher order representation.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Applied Psycholinguistics Vol. 34, Issue 1.

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