Children do not overcome lexical biases where adults do: The role of the referential scene in garden-path recovery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this paper we report on a visual world eye-tracking experiment that investigated the differing abilities of adults and children to use referential scene information during reanalysis to overcome lexical biases during sentence processing. The results showed that adults incorporated aspects of the referential scene into their parse as soon as it became apparent that a test sentence was syntactically ambiguous, suggesting they considered the two alternative analyses in parallel. In contrast, the children appeared not to reanalyze their initial analysis, even over shorter distances than have been investigated in prior research. We argue that this reflects the children's over-reliance on bottom-up, lexical cues to interpretation. The implications for the development of parsing routines are discussed. © 2010 Cambridge University Press.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-234
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Child Language
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011