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Description: In this study, we investigated the benefits of multimodal cues for processing pragmatic meaning in children with and without DLD. Specifically, we tested whether children with DLD are more likely to benefit from prosodic and gestural cues than children without DLD when processing literal and nonliteral speech acts. A total of 39 children with DLD and 39 TD children aged 5 to 10 participated in a visual-world eye-tracking task. We designed two experiments, one per pragmatic meaning: literal speech acts (interrogative sentences) and nonliteral speech acts (indirect requests), and we manipulated the presence of multimodal cues highlighting the meaning of the sentence (prosodically-enhanced, multimodally-enhanced, and no-enhancement). We found that all children benefit from the presence of prosodic -and multimodal- enhancement when processing interrogative sentences, although younger children with DLD showed less accuracy in the task. In the comprehension of indirect requests, the multimodal-enhancement condition was especially helpful for older children with DLD. Eye gaze data revealed a higher proportion of fixations to Target images by older TD children. Our results highlight the importance of multimodal cues for the processing of complex pragmatic meanings when linguistic abilities are impaired.


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