Does syntactic priming in children persist across significant time periods?
Hill Louisa dissertation 2013.pdf (586.4Kb)
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Using a ‘snap’ paradigm, we investigated the time course effects of syntactic priming in both adults and children. The research was done over a one week time frame in order to see whether priming is a long lived effect and can therefore be seen as a form of implicit learning, and ultimately a tool in the acquisition of grammatical structures for children. We primed participants with active, passive, double object (DO) and prepositional object (PO) sentences depicting a picture, and then asked them to describe an unrelated picture. We found that priming was a long term effect for both adults and children suggesting an implicit learning effect. For passive structures children were found to be primed more in both sessions, and they experienced a larger increase from week one to week two. We took this to indicate that children experience stronger implicit learning effects than adults from priming of rare structures such as passives. This therefore suggests priming can result in an alteration to our linguistic representations which could assist children in learning different grammatical structures. For DO structures an overall priming effect was found across both sessions, however there were no significant interactions between prime and group, or prime and session, suggesting children are not more strongly primed than adults for DO structures.