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Priming effects Based on Prediction Error Across Development

Alina Kholodova

Technical University of Kaiserslautern, Germany

There is insufficient developmental research on core priming effects found in the adults within and across languages such as abstract priming, lexical boost, surprisal and cumulative priming (Bock, 1986; Bock & Griffin, 2000;  Jaeger & Snider, 2008; Pickering & Branigan, 1998). Further, we lack research on these effects in languages where the two structural alternatives behave differently in bias strength leading to different degrees of prediction error of the rarer variant (Chang et al., 2000; 2006). We primed several child groups (aged 3-to 4, 5- to 6, 7-to 8) and adults in German with double object datives (Dora sent Boots the rabbit – DO) and prepositional object datives (Dora sent the rabbit to Boots - PO). As opposed to English, the latter structure is highly dispreferred in German. In line with Chang et al.’s (2000; 2006) error-based learning model, we found adaptation effects immediately and across time for the PO (but not for the DO) structure across all age groups with the highest effects in the youngest children due to more surprisal. The lexical boost effect emerged across development.

We decided test our observations across-languages and primed German (L1) - English (L2) bilinguals from English to German using the same materials.  Preliminary results in adults show an opposite pattern: more adaptation effects immediately and across time for the DO structure which is the somewhat less preferred option in English. The translation equivalent boost effect did also not occur. We intend to discuss our results within the framework of current priming accounts.

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