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Understanding indirect requests for information in high-functioning autism
Filippo Domaneschi, Greta Mazzaggio, Simona Di Paola, Eleonora Marocchini, 2022, izvirni znanstveni članek

Opis: Few works have addressed the processing of indirect requests in High-Functioning Autism (HFA), and results are conflicting. Some studies report HFA individuals’ difficulties in indirect requests comprehension; others suggest that it might be preserved in HFA. Furthermore, the role of Theory of Mind in understanding indirect requests is an open issue. The goal of this work is twofold: first, assessing whether comprehension of indirect requests for information is preserved in HFA; second, exploring whether mind-reading skills predict this ability. We tested a group of (n = 14; 9–12 years) HFA children and two groups of younger (n = 19; 5–6 years) and older (n = 28; 9–12 years) typically developing (TD) children in a semi-structured task involving direct, indirect and highly indirect requests for information. Results suggested that HFA can understand indirect and highly indirect requests, as well as TD children. Yet, while Theory of Mind skills seem to enhance older TD children understanding, this is not the case for HFA children. Therefore, interestingly, they could rely on different interpretative strategies.
Najdeno v: osebi
Ključne besede: autism, indirect requests, speech acts, pragamtics
Objavljeno: 22.09.2021; Ogledov: 498; Prenosov: 0
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What a pro-drop language can tell us about pronouns' use in high-functioning ASD children
Greta Mazzaggio, Greta Mazzaggio, 2019, objavljeni povzetek znanstvenega prispevka na konferenci

Opis: Background. Traditionally, pragmatic abilities are thought to be impaired in ASD and this is attributed to an impairment of Theory of Mind (ToM). Yet, a clear characterization of pragmatic impairments in ASD and, particularly, in High Functioning Autism (HFA) is still lacking. Recently, the traditional view has been mitigated by the finding that some pragmatic phenomena (e.g., scalar implicatures) are partly preserved in HFA. What about Indirect Speech Acts? The picture is fragmented. On the one hand, some studies suggest that HFAs perform well on conventionalised indirect requests (Paul & Cohen, 1985); on the other, some studies report HFAs’ difficulties in explaining why indirect requests are used in a given context (MacKay & Shaw, 2005). However, following the traditional view, one would expect ASD population to experience difficulties with indirect speech acts. Beyond this, it is a shared idea that typical subjects show more difficulties with indirect speech acts than conventionalized indirect requests (Clark, 1979; Clark & Lucy, 1975) Kissine et al. (2015) tested indirect speech acts comprehension in HFAs and typically developing (TD) children. In a 3-pronged semi-structured task involving Mr. Potato Head, they found that HFAs performed better than TDs and concluded that indirect requests understanding may be preserved in HFA. However, this study compared TDs and HFAs at very different age ranges (TDs: 2;7-to-3;6 years; HFAs: 7-to-12 years) and only assumed a homogeneous development of ToM, given that no measure for children’s ToM skills and general cognitive functioning was collected. As such, it is unclear whether the HFAs’ better performance reflects age group-related differences rather than genuine speech acts comprehension in autism. Here, we further explore the hypothesis that indirect requests may be preserved/compromised in autism by comparing HFA and TD participants matched for age in a semi-structured task. We also assess children’s linguistic and ToM skills, to investigate whether such cognitive functions predict indirect requests comprehension. Methods. 43 Italian children were tested: 14 HFA children [MA = 10,6; SD = 1.17; 2f] and 26 age-matched TD children [MA = 11.03; SD = 0.61; 9f]. To test indirect speech acts understanding, we designed a task in which children were first presented with the drawing of a farm showing several animals and objects; then, while still looking at the drawing, they were asked some questions about the drawing (N. 24). The goal was to answer the questions in order to help the experimenter recreating the drawing. Questions were presented in 3 conditions: Direct (DIR: Is there a bunny in the farm?), Indirect (IND: I don’t remember if there is a bunny in the farm) and Highly Indirect (HIND: It is hard to remember whether there is a bunny in the farm). This generated 3 levels of the indirectness of the request (Direct, Indirect, Highly Indirect), which involved increasing processing efforts. Children’s accuracy to target questions was collected. After the indirect speech acts task, we administered the BVL test (morphosyntactic abilities) and 2 ToM tests (1st and 2nd order ToM). Results. Data were analysed with binomial logistic regression models. We analysed (i) whether children’s speech acts understanding varies depending on the indirectness of the request (i.e., DIR, IND, HIND) and on Group (i.e., TD vs. ASD); and (ii) whether this ability is predicted by their linguistic and ToM skills. Table 1 reports the accuracy rates in the speech act task as well as the BVL and ToM tests scores. (i) Accuracy in Speech Acts. Children’s accuracy significantly differed depending on condition only (Condition: p<.0001). Importantly, children performed significantly worse with indirect and highly indirect requests than with direct requests (DIR vs. IND: p< .005; DIR vs. HIND: p< .0001; IND vs. HIND: p=n.s.). (ii) Predictors. Both children’s linguistic and ToM skills significantly predicted their accuracy, as revealed by a significant positive correlation between accuracy in speech acts task and the scores in BVL (p<.05; β=4.78) and ToM tests (1st order ToM: p<.05; β=1.59; 2nd order ToM: p<.05; β=2.71). Interestingly, a significant negative correlation also emerged between (i) children’s BVL scores and their accuracy to HIND (p<.05; β=-0.16); and (ii) children’s scores in the 2nd order ToM test and their accuracy in both Indirect and HIND (Cond Indirect X 2nd order ToM: p<.05, β = -2.55; Cond HIND X 2nd order ToM: p<.05, β = - 3.04) (see Fig 1). Conclusion. These data support three main results. First, in line with previous studies on adults (Clark & Lucy, 1975; Coulson & Lovett, 2010), both TDs and HFAs exhibit more difficulties understanding indirect - and highly indirect - than direct requests (i.e., effect of condition). Second, both ToM and morphosyntactic abilities seem to predict the ability to understand speech acts: participants with better morphosyntactic and ToM skills also exhibited a better understanding of speech acts (i.e., positive correlations with the BVL and ToM test scores), thus suggesting that the better the linguistic and ToM abilities the better children’s understanding of speech acts. However, third, this general pattern seems to be influenced by the indirectness of the request. In fact, participants with better morphosyntactic and 1st order ToM abilities still performed lower with highly indirect requests than direct and indirect ones (i.e, negative correlations). Similarly, the better 2nd order ToM the better speech acts understanding, but still this was more the case with direct requests than indirect and highly indirect requests (i.e., negative correlations). Overall, this suggests that the cognitive functions under scrutiny likely enhance children’s speech acts understanding, but the level of indirectness of the request might involve these functions to different extents, at least in the age-range targeted here. To the best of our knowledge, though still preliminary, this is first evidence of the cognitive functions involved in indirect speech acts comprehension in typical and atypical development. It might be worth exploring further the possibility that ToM is more prominently involved than linguistic abilities. Finally, differently from Kissine et al. (2015), we observed no significant accuracy differences between TDs and HFAs. This result deserves further clarifications. However, two tentative interpretations can be outlined. First, contra Kissine et al. (2015), when matched for age, HFAs are not more facilitated in understanding indirect speech acts than TDs. Second, the sample of HFA participants is still too narrow to make any appreciable difference emerge. We are collecting more data to cast light on this.We tested 26 Italian children with ASD (mean age: 87.1 mo.) and a control group of 35 typically developing (TD) children (mean age: 65.5 mo.), matched for syntactic abilities using a standard Italian assessment, the BVL 4-12 (Marini, Marotta, Bulgheroni, & Fabbro, 2015). 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-person subject pronouns were elicited in focus position as well as in conjunction with a verb. Children’s theory of mind ability (Sullivan, Zaitchik, & Tager-Flusberg, 1994; Wellman & Liu, 2004), nonverbal intelligence (Raven’s Coloured Progressive Matrices; Belacchi, Scalisi, Cannoni, & Cornoldi, 2008), lexical knowledge (Marini et al., 2015), and comprehension of 1st- and 2nd-person pronouns were also tested. Pronoun comprehension was at ceiling in both groups (TD = 97.1%, ASD = 100%). However, the groups differed in their production of 1st-, 2nd- and 3rd person pronouns (Figure 1), with TD children producing the correct forms significantly more often than the children with ASD (1st- person: TD 92.9%; ASD 72.2%; U = 588.5; p = .006; 2nd-person: TD 97.1%; ASD 76%; U = 590.5; p = .003; 3rd-person: TD 100%; ASD 93.5%; U = 525; p = .02). When eliciting pronouns in isolation (focus position), children with ASD were more likely than TD children to produce their own name rather than a 1st-person pronoun (χ2 (1) = 5.34, p = .02). On the pronoun-verb elicitation task, children with ASD omitted optional subject pronouns significantly less often than TD children (null 1st-person: χ2 (1) = 7.58, p < .01; null 2nd-person: χ2 (1) = 8.43, p < .01). With regard to verb inflections, children with ASD produced a number of different verb forms (e.g., verbs in the infinitive, 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-person singular forms). Finally, a Pearson partial correlation analysis (controlling for age) revealed that for both groups, linguistic abilities were the best predictors of pronoun mastery (ASD: 1st-person pronoun and syntactic abilities, r = .390, p = .05; 2nd-person pronoun and lexicon abilities, r = .406, p = .04. TD: 1st-person pronoun and syntactic abilities, r = .446, p = .008). In line with at least three other studies on American and British children (Jordan, 1989; Lee, Hobson, & Chiat, 1994; Shield, Meier, & Tager-Flusberg, 2015), Italian children with ASD produced their own name rather than the 1st-person subject pronoun more often than TD children. However, children with ASD were more likely than TD children to produce subject pronouns in non-obligatory contexts, such as when the subject can be inferred from the verb. This pattern suggests that Italian children with ASD are generally able to acquire and use pronominal forms, but struggle with understanding when and where to use them appropriately, pointing to underlying challenges with pragmatics.
Najdeno v: osebi
Ključne besede: indirect speech acts, indirect requests, autism developmental disorders
Objavljeno: 22.09.2021; Ogledov: 489; Prenosov: 16
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Does irony understanding decline with age?
Diana Mazzarella, Hortense De Bettignies, Greta Mazzaggio, 2021, objavljeni povzetek znanstvenega prispevka na konferenci

Opis: The use of non-literal language is deeply embedded in everyday communication and the ability to comprehend it changes across life. Research indicates that older adults sometimes struggle in understanding pragmatic aspects of language, such as presupposition (Domaneschi & Di Paola 2019), humor (Bischetti et al. 2019) or sarcasm (Phillips et al. 2015). The present study aims at broadening our understanding of these age-related changes by focusing on irony understanding. To understand irony (e.g., ‘The weather is great!’ uttered under a pouring rain), one needs to recognize that the speaker is expressing a dissociative attitude towards a proposition that is blatantly irrelevant or false, which echoes an attributed thought or statement (e.g., the proposition ‘The weather is great’ attributed to the mistaken weather forecaster). Previous research shows that the ability to process irony is closely related to Theory-of-Mind (ToM) and working memory (WM). As there is evidence of an age-related decline in both cognitive abilities, this decline may impact irony understanding in late adulthood. In our ongoing study, we test the effect of age on irony-processing by comparing self-paced reading times of ironic and literal statements across two age groups (young adults: 19-25 yo and older adults: 65-74 yo). Crucially, we manipulate the degree of explicitness of the statement echoed by the ironic speaker. We predict that the difference between the reading times for ironic and literal statements will be modulated by age. Moreover, we predict that reading times will be faster when the echo is explicit compared to when the echo is implicated and that this effect will be stronger for older adults. Finally, we expect that ToM and WM will both be significant predictors and that WM will play a crucial role when the implicitness of the echo poses higher cognitive demands
Najdeno v: osebi
Ključne besede: irony, aging, cognitive decline, experimental pragmatics, processing
Objavljeno: 22.09.2021; Ogledov: 499; Prenosov: 18
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Explicit gender stereotyping in bilingualism
Greta Mazzaggio, 2021, objavljeni povzetek znanstvenega prispevka na konferenci

Opis: A gender stereotype is a mental representation related to gender, according to which certain characteristics are attributed without direct experience (Allport 1954). Many ordinary words present a negative connotation when applied to women compared to men (Lakoff 1973). Do linguistic stimuli influence our bias towards gender stereotypes? We want to exploit the foreign language effect (FLE) to see whether explicit linguistic gender stereotypes are reduced in a second language (L2) compared to a first language (L1). We asked Italian native speakers (213), English native speakers (105) and Italian/English bilinguals (192) to evaluate words as neuter, masculine or feminine. We presented a total of 58 words divided into four categories: 14 Power words vs. 14 Weak words and 15 Warm words vs. 15 Cold words. As expected, overall, participants judged Power words much more masculine than Weak words and Cold words much more masculine than Warm words (Rudman et al. 2001). Running a two-way MANOVA (Group*Gender), there was a statistically significant effect of group for Weak words and of Gender for both Weak words and Warm words. Post-hoc analyses revealed that L2 participants behave differently from the L1 ones, with lower masculine scores for Power words, lower feminine scores for Weak words and Warm words. We demonstrated that when presented with words in a L2 participants are less prone to judge them in a gender-biased way. Our results seem to confirm the FLE: a L2 might trigger cognitive and emotional distance, leading to a lesser gender-biased semantic behavior and language might (mildly) affect how we perceive reality. The take home message is that linguistic behavior might affect our inner beliefs and, thus, how women are represented in everyday language should reflect better equality standards. Gender- free language policies (e.g., gender-neutral language) might be useful in the long run.
Najdeno v: osebi
Ključne besede: linguistic sexism, gender, stereotype, psycholinguistics, bilingualism
Objavljeno: 22.09.2021; Ogledov: 498; Prenosov: 27
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A group of researchers is/are testing agreement with pseudopartitives
M. Rita Manzini, Ludovico Franco, Greta Mazzaggio, Francesca Foppolo, 2021, objavljeni povzetek znanstvenega prispevka na konferenci

Najdeno v: osebi
Ključne besede: pseudopartitives, agreement attraction, agreement
Objavljeno: 22.09.2021; Ogledov: 450; Prenosov: 18
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Pragmatic skills in aging
Diana Mazzarella, Hortense De Bettignies, Greta Mazzaggio, 2021, objavljeni povzetek znanstvenega prispevka na konferenci

Opis: The use of non-literal language, like verbal irony, is deeply embedded in everyday communication and the ability to comprehend it changes across life. According to the echoic mention theory (Wilson & Sperber, 2012), understanding irony amounts to recognize a dissociative attitude. In the ‘Contextual echo’ example (Figure 1), Cynthia’s utterance “Tonight we gave a superb performance” is an example of irony. Cynthia is expressing a dissociative, mocking attitude towards the blatantly false proposition “Tonight we gave a superb performance”, that echoes the unfulfilled expectation that the concert would go well. The thought that is echoed can be “uttered”, like in the ‘Explicit echo’ example where the ironic utterance echoes the content explicitly expressed by Lea’s preceding statement; but the dissociative attitude can also target some implicitly communicated meaning, like in the ‘Implicated echo’ example, where the ironic utterance echoes the implicature of Lea’s statement, that is that they will sing well. Our first aim is to assess whether the echo’s degree of explicitness influence the processing of irony. Second, since research indicates that older adults sometimes struggle in understanding non-literal statements, like presupposition (Domaneschi & Di Paola 2019) or humor (Bischetti et al. 2019), we want to address the question of whether the processing of irony is more effortful in late adulthood and, if so, which underlying cognitive capacities might be responsible. Data collection is ongoing and the study is pre-registered on OSF ( Methods: The experiment requires the participation of 25 young adults (18-29-year-old) and 25 older adults (65-74-year-old). Participants will be administered a series of standardized tests to assess a) ToM (Faux Pas test) b) WM (Alpha span test) c) Autistic Quotient. The experimental study is a self-paced reading task. Each participant will be presented with stories adapted from the material of Spotorno & Noveck (2014): 15 ironic stories (5 with contextual echo, 5 with implicated echo and 5 with explicit echo), 5 literal stories, 10 decoys and 20 fillers (in a randomized order). Participants answer a yes/no comprehension question at the end of each story. An example of stories is given in Figure 1. Predictions: We expect overall slower reading time for ironic statements compared to literal ones and greater difficulties in the older adults group for ironic statements. We predict that our manipulation of the echo will have an effect on the processing of irony, and that reading times will be faster when the echo is explicit compared to when the echo is implicated (a stronger effect for older adults). We also expect that performance in our ToM task will predict reading times for ironic statements, with lower performance resulting in slower reading times. The presence of an implicated echo will exacerbate the difficulties. Moreover, we expect a positive correlation between the Autistic Quotient score and the difference between the reading times in the ironic and literal conditions. Finally, we expect that WM score will predict longer reading times for ironic statements when the implicitness of the echo poses higher cognitive demands. Analysis plan: First, we plan an evaluation of the group differences for neuropsychological data using a Wilcoxon signed- rank test. Then, we will proceed with a Pearson correlation coefficient test and analysis of variance to understand the relationship between the different measures (Clark, et al. 2010). The principal component analysis will be used to further assess their relationship. To understand the effect of the predictors on the reading time we will run a (Generalized) Linear Mixed-Effects Model with reading time as response variable, (Age Group x Type x Echo) as categorical predictors, test scores of neuropsychological data as continuous (or ordinal) predictors, and subject ID and items as random effects. All relevant interactions (both fixed and random) will also be assessed. The models will be fitted in R using the ‘lme4’ package (Bates et al. 2015). The (G)LMM will be simplified by removing one non-significant interaction at a time (and then, possibly non-significant main effects) on the basis of the Analysis of Deviance (LR Tests), until the optimal model is reached.
Najdeno v: osebi
Ključne besede: irony, processing, aging
Objavljeno: 22.09.2021; Ogledov: 497; Prenosov: 44
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Citazione patologica
Greta Mazzaggio, 2015, prispevek na konferenci brez natisa

Opis: La citazione è spesso utilizzata nella letteratura, ma anche nella conversazione, come strumento di arricchimento stilistico e concettuale, o semplicemente per supportare la propria idea con parole altrui. Ma se per qualcuno citare fosse il solo modo di comunicare? Questo è il caso di alcune patologie, tra le quali l’autismo, in cui difficoltà di creazione di proposizioni con funzione dichiarativa vengono mitigate con strategie tra le quali la ripetizione, meccanica e stereotipata, di parole e frasi altrui: l’ecolalia. Tale fenomeno è un mezzo di apprendimento linguistico comune a tutti i bambini che si accostano all’acquisizione del parlato, ma quando non avvengono una risoluzione e un superamento mediante il passaggio ad una comunicazione personale, si cade nella patologia. L’eco può presentarsi subitamente, e in tal caso parliamo di ecolalia immediata, oppure può presentarsi a distanza di tempo e parleremo in questo caso di ecolalia differita. Negli anni passati le categorizzazioni riguardanti la funzione dell’ecolalia si sono susseguite ma questo paper vuole apportare alcuni dati in favore del valore comunicativo fondamentale sottostante la patologia, a seguito di un progressivo decremento degli studi di valenza pragmatico-linguistica inerenti al fenomeno.
Najdeno v: osebi
Ključne besede: ecolalia, echolalia, citazione
Objavljeno: 23.09.2021; Ogledov: 473; Prenosov: 0
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Echolalia as a communicative strategy
Greta Mazzaggio, 2016, prispevek na konferenci brez natisa

Najdeno v: osebi
Ključne besede: echolalia, kleefstof syndrome, communication
Objavljeno: 23.09.2021; Ogledov: 484; Prenosov: 0
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When a second language makes you more logical
Greta Mazzaggio, 2017, prispevek na konferenci brez natisa

Najdeno v: osebi
Ključne besede: L2, implicatures, experimental pragmatics
Objavljeno: 23.09.2021; Ogledov: 493; Prenosov: 0
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Is first- and second-person singular pronouns acquisition related with the development of theory of mind?
Greta Mazzaggio, 2016, prispevek na konferenci brez natisa

Najdeno v: osebi
Ključne besede: pronouns, autism, theory of mind, language development, echolalia
Objavljeno: 23.09.2021; Ogledov: 515; Prenosov: 0
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