Resolving ambiguity: A psycholinguistic approach to understanding prosody processing in high-functioning autism

Joshua J. Diehl, Loisa Bennetto, Duane Watson, Christine Gunlogson, Joyce McDonough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Individuals with autism exhibit significant impairments in prosody production, yet there is a paucity of research on prosody comprehension in this population. The current study adapted a psycholinguistic paradigm to examine whether individuals with autism are able to use prosody to resolve syntactically ambiguous sentences. Participants were 21 adolescents with high-functioning autism (HFA), and 22 typically developing controls matched on age, IQ, receptive language, and gender. The HFA group was significantly less likely to use prosody to disambiguate syntax, but scored comparably to controls when syntax alone or both prosody and syntax indicated the correct response. These findings indicate that adolescents with HFA have difficulty using prosody to disambiguate syntax in comparison to typically developing controls, even when matched on chronological age, IQ, and receptive language. The implications of these findings for how individuals with autism process language are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-152
Number of pages9
JournalBrain and Language
Volume106
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2008

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Comprehension
  • High-functioning
  • Intonation
  • Language
  • Pragmatics
  • Prosody
  • Syntax

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Resolving ambiguity: A psycholinguistic approach to understanding prosody processing in high-functioning autism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this