Consistent and cumulative effects of syntactic experience in children’s sentence production: Evidence for error-based implicit learning

Holly Branigan, Katherine Messenger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Error-based implicit learning models (e.g., Chang, Dell, & Bock, 2006) propose that a single learning mechanism underlies immediate and long-term effects of experience on children’s syntax. We test two key predictions of these models: That individual experiences of infrequent structures should yield both immediate and long-term facilitation, and that such learning should be consistent in individual speakers across time. Children (and adults) described transitive events in two picture-matching games, held a week apart. In both sessions, the experimenter’s immediately preceding syntax (active vs. passive) dynamically influenced children’s (and adults’) syntactic choices in an individually consistent manner. Moreover, children showed long-term facilitation, through an increased likelihood to produce passives in Session 2, with speakers who were most likely to immediately repeat passives in Session 1 being most likely to produce passives in Session 2. Our results are consistent with an error-based syntactic learning mechanism that operates across the lifespan.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-256
JournalCognition
Volume157
Early online date26 Sept 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • structural priming
  • implicit learning
  • language development
  • error-based learning
  • syntactic priming

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