The development of complex sentence processing strategies

David Townsend, Norma Ravelo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Children aged 3, 4, and 5 years and adults heard sentences with clauses connected by after, and, or before, saw a picture, and indicated whether or not the picture matched one of the events of the sentence. Response times were taken as a measure of immediate accessibility to the meaning of the clause that the picture was about. Temporal organization of sentence meanings was dominant in 3-year-olds and adults, but not in 4- or 5-year-olds. The 3-year-olds and especially the adults processed and-sentences as implicitly temporal. The results for 4- and 5-year-olds are interpreted as indicating experimentation with alternate strategies for organizing sentences based on the structural/presuppositional properties of clauses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-73
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1980


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