The development of predictive processes in children's discourse understanding


We investigate children's online predictive processing as it occurs naturally, in conversation. We showed 1--7 year-olds short videos of improvised conversation between puppets, controlling for available linguistic information through phonetic manipulation. Even one- and two-year-old children made accurate and spontaneous predictions about when a turn-switch would occur: they gazed at the upcoming speaker before they heard a response begin. This predictive skill relies on both lexical and prosodic information together, and is not tied to either type of information alone. We suggest that children integrate prosodic, lexical, and visual information to effectively predict upcoming linguistic material in conversation.

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