Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 81–105 | Cite as

A Developmental Perspective on Processing Semantic Context: Preliminary Evidence from Sentential Auditory Word Repetition in School-Aged Children

  • N. A. MahlerEmail author
  • H. J. Chenery


The current investigation examined the developmental changes involved in processing semantic context in auditorily presented sentences, as well as underlying attentional and suppression mechanisms. Thirty-nine typically developing school-aged children aged 6;0–14;0 years participated in the current cross-sectional sentential auditory word repetition study. Component processes involved in auditory word recognition were examined and their respective developmental trajectories systematically delineated. Experimental manipulations included semantic congruity (congruous, incongruous), sentence constraint (high, low), cloze probability (high, low), and processing mode. High sentence constraints elicited top-down pre-potency type effects, which resulted in active suppression of anticipated cloze words and longer naming latencies of perceived cloze words when violated with conflicting bottom-up information. In addition, developmental changes in component processes reflected underlying changes in attention, with evidence that suppression mechanisms remained relatively constant with age. Findings are interpreted in line with the Trace (McClelland and Elman in Cogn Psychol 18(1):1–86, 1986) model of auditory word recognition.


Auditory word recognition Development Children Semantic context Suppression 



The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of Professor Bruce Murdoch throughout this work. Furthermore, they would like to extend thanks to the participants and their families for their support of this project, the Gap and Kenmore State Schools for their assistance in the recruitment of participants, and Dion Scott, Peter Condie and Tom Johnsen for technical support at the University of Queensland’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Some of the data reported here previously appeared in the doctoral thesis Auditory word recognition in school-aged children with and without mild Traumatic Brain Injury by N. Mahler.


This work was supported by the Commonwealth of Australia through an Australian Postgraduate Award stipend to the lead author. There was no involvement of the funding source in any research activities.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Health and Rehabilitation SciencesThe University of QueenslandSaint LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.Speech Pathology, School of Allied Health Sciences, Gold Coast CampusGriffith UniversitySouth PortAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of Health Sciences and MedicineBond UniversityRobinaAustralia

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