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Academic Paper

Title: Cascading activation across levels of representation in children's lexical processing
Author: Yi Ting Huang
Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Author: Jesse Snedeker
Institution: Harvard University
Linguistic Field: Cognitive Science; Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Recent work in adult psycholinguistics has demonstrated that activation of semantic representations begins long before phonological processing is complete. This incremental propagation of information across multiple levels of analysis is a hallmark of adult language processing but how does this ability develop? In two experiments, we elicit measures of incremental activation of semantic representations during word recognition in children. Five-year-olds were instructed to select a target (‘logs’) while their eye-movements were measured to a competitor (‘key’) that was semantically related to an absent phonological associate (‘lock’). We found that, like adults, children made increased looks to competitors relative to unrelated control items. However, unlike adults, children continued to look at the competitor even after the target word was uniquely identified and were more likely to incorrectly select this item. Altogether, these results suggest that early lexical processing involves cascading activation but less efficient resolution of competing entries.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 38, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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