Adults and children predict in complex and variable referential contexts

Tracy Reuter, Kavindya Dalawella, Casey Lew-Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Prior research suggests that prediction supports language processing and learning. However, the ecological validity of such findings is unclear because experiments usually include constrained stimuli. While theoretically suggestive, previous conclusions will be largely irrelevant if listeners cannot generate predictions in response to complex and variable perceptual input. Taking a step toward addressing this limitation, three eye-tracking experiments evaluated how adults (N = 72) and 4- and 5-year-old children (N = 72) generated predictions in contexts with complex visual stimuli (Experiment 1), variable speech stimuli (Experiment 2), and both concurrently (Experiment 3). Results indicated that listeners generated predictions in contexts with complex visual stimuli or variable speech stimuli. When both were more naturalistic, listeners used informative verbs to generate predictions, but not adjectives or number markings. This investigation provides a test for theories claiming that prediction is a central learning mechanism, and calls for further evaluations of prediction in naturalistic settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-490
Number of pages17
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Volume36
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Keywords

  • Prediction
  • anticipatory eye movements
  • ecological validity
  • language development
  • language processing

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