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False belief and relative clauses in Autism Spectrum Disorders.

J Commun Disord. 2018 Apr 17;74:35-44

Authors: Durrleman S, Hinzen W, Franck J

Abstract
Previous studies have suggested sentential complementation is the crucial ingredient of language that relates to false-belief (FB) reasoning, while the role of relative clauses (RCs) is less clear. Nevertheless, under the hypothesis that clausal embedding has a meta-representational effect, arguably implied in FB, one expects a link between FB and not only complementation but also relativization. Seventeen children with ASD (6 to 16 years, mean age 9;2) were assessed for RCs and FB. Comprehension of RCs significantly predicted FB performance, while none of the controlled factors played a predictive role (comprehension of simple sentences, vocabulary, morpho-syntax and working memory). Findings suggest that clausal embedding, common to both sentential complements and RCs, serves as a bootstrap for FB reasoning.

PMID: 29753216 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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