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Antecedent priming at trace positions in children's sentence processing

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Publication details

JournalJournal of psycholinguistic research
DatePublished - 2007
Issue number2
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)175-88
Original languageEnglish


The present study examines whether children reactivate a moved constituent at its gap position and how children's more limited working memory span affects the way they process filler-gap dependencies. 46 5-7 year-old children and 54 adult controls participated in a cross-modal picture priming experiment and underwent a standardized working memory test. The results revealed a statistically significant interaction between the participants' working memory span and antecedent reactivation: High-span children (n = 19) and high-span adults (n = 22) showed evidence of antecedent priming at the gap site, while for low-span children and adults, there was no such effect. The antecedent priming effect in the high-span participants indicates that in both children and adults, dislocated arguments access their antecedents at gap positions. The absence of an antecedent reactivation effect in the low-span participants could mean that these participants required more time to integrate the dislocated constituent and reactivated the filler later during the sentence.

    Research areas

  • Adolescent, Adult, Child, Cues, Discrimination Learning, Female, Humans, Male, Memory, Short-Term, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Psycholinguistics, Reading, Semantics, Speech Perception

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