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ERIC Number: ED420091
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998-Jul
Pages: 24
Abstractor: N/A
Processing Load and Children's Comprehension of Relative Clause Sentences.
Andrews, Glenda; Halford, Graeme S.; Prasad, Ashika
Two experiments investigated the role of capacity in children's comprehension of relative clause sentences. Sentences varied in number of participant roles, focus (object, subject), and embeddedness (center-embedded, right-branching). Center-embeddedness and object-focus were expected to constrain individuals toward assigning more nouns to their roles in the same decision. Estimates of sentences' processing loads were based on number of roles assigned in parallel and quantified in terms of a relational complexity metric (binary, ternary relations). In experiments 1 and 2, 135 children (4 to 8 years) and 48 children (4 to 7 years) respectively, responded to comprehension probes. As predicted, 3-role sentences were more difficult than 2-role sentences if sentences were center-embedded, object-focused or both, but not if sentences were right-branching. Comprehension improved with age. Children's working memory capacity (listening span) and their capacity to process complex relations (hierarchical classification, transitivity) were also assessed. Age-related improvements in performance were observed on all tasks. Regression analyses showed that Relational Complexity tasks accounted for variance in comprehension independently of age and listening span. The processing load involved in comprehension of relative clause sentences seems due to, in part, the complexity of the relational information entailed in the role assignment process. (Contains five tables and two figures of data.) (Author/RS)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A