Using Eye Movements to Study On-Line Sentence Processing in Children: Finding the Kindergarten-Path Effect

John C. Trueswell, Dept. of Psychology and Institute for Research in Cognitive Science, University of Pennsylvania

October 13, 1998


Abstract

I will report on a new method for studying the language processing strategies of children, in which a head-mounted eye tracking system was used to monitor eye movements as children responded to spoken instructions.  Systematic differences were found in how children and adults interpret ambiguous phrases.  Five year old children relied heavily on the linguistic properties of the input, showing less ability or inclination than adults to coordinate these properties with information from the situation or context.  The findings suggest that a central component of human development is acquiring the capacity to rapidly coordinate the information generated from multiple perceptual and cognitive systems.