Daniele Panizza, Edgar Onea, and Nivedita Mani (2021)

Early ERP evidence for children's and adults' sensitivity to scalar implicatures triggered by existential quantifiers (some)

Frontiers in Psychology, 12:657408.

How quickly do children and adults interpret scalar lexical items in speech processing? The current study examined interpretation of the scalar terms some vs. all in contexts where either the stronger (some = not all) or the weaker interpretation was permissible (some allows all). Children and adults showed increased negative deflections in brain activity following the word some in some-infelicitous versus some-felicitous contexts. This effect was found as early as 100 ms across central electrode sites (in children), and 300–500 ms across left frontal, fronto-central, and centro-parietal electrode sites (in children and adults). These results strongly suggest that young children (aged between 3 and 4 years) as well as adults quickly have access to the contextually appropriate interpretation of scalar terms.