The Slow Developmental Time Course of Real-Time Spoken Word Recognition

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This study investigated the developmental time course of spoken word recognition in older children using eye tracking to assess how the real-time processing dynamics of word recognition change over development. We found that 9-year-olds were slower to activate the target words and showed more early competition from competitor words than 16-year-olds; however, both age groups ultimately fixated targets to the same degree. This contrasts with a prior study of adolescents with language impairment (McMurray, Samelson, Lee, & Tomblin, 2010) that showed a different pattern of real-time processes. These findings suggest that the dynamics of word recognition are still developing even at these late ages, and developmental changes may derive from different sources than individual differences in relative language ability.

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