Maternal Socioeconomic Status Influences the Range of Expectations During Language Comprehension in Adulthood

Cognitive Science 41 (S6):1405-1433 (2017)
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In infancy, maternal socioeconomic status is associated with real-time language processing skills, but whether or not this relationship carries into adulthood is unknown. We explored the effects of maternal SES in college-aged adults on eye-tracked, spoken sentence comprehension tasks using the visual world paradigm. When sentences ended in highly plausible, expected target nouns, higher SES was associated with a greater likelihood of considering alternative endings related to the action of the sentence. Moreover, for unexpected sentence endings, individuals from higher SES backgrounds were sensitive to whether the ending was action-related or unrelated, showing a benefit for plausible endings. Individuals from lower SES backgrounds did not show this advantage. This suggests maternal SES can influence the dynamics of sentence processing even in adulthood, with consequences for processing unexpected content. These findings highlight the importance of early lexical experience for adult language skills.



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Sentence processing strategies in adult bilinguals.Kerry Kilborn & Takehiko Ito - 1989 - In Brian MacWhinney & Elizabeth Bates (eds.), The Crosslinguistic study of sentence processing. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 257--291.


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