What is it about?

When hearing "Put the frog on the pond into the tent", adults can quickly figure out what to do especially when there are two frogs in the context, as opposed to one frog. Unlike adults, kindergartners are known for their difficulties in resolving the ambiguity regardless of the referential context. We show that 5-year-olds can successfully, albeit slowly, use referential context information in this task. Children's performance in this task is related to their executive function.

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Why is it important?

We found evidence that 5-year-olds can use pragmatic inferences about what it makes sense to say in the current referential context to guide real-time syntactic ambiguity resolution—at least if given a little more time to do so. We also provide new evidence that domain-general executive functioning plays a role in children's developing ability in syntactic parsing.

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This page is a summary of: Referential context and executive functioning influence children’s resolution of syntactic ambiguity., Journal of Experimental Psychology Learning Memory and Cognition, October 2020, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/xlm0000886.
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