Implicature processing in high-­functioning autism

Team: Petra Schumacher (InfoPer), Maria Spychalska (Bochum), Prof. Dr. Dr. Kai Vogeley (Köln/Jülich) and Prof. Dr. Markus Werning (Bochum)

The project aims at comparing typical and autistic participants with respect to their processing of scalar implicatures that are associated with weak quantifiers such as “some”. People with high-functioning autism often show atypical performance with respect to pragmatic aspects of language processing, including difficulties with the processing of defeasible reasoning, pragmatic inferences and linguistic information in context, (cf. e.g., Pijnacker et al., 2009a/2009b/2010). Yet little is known about the calculation of implicature in high-functioning autism, let alone the respective online processing profiles. In addition, different processing profiles have been observed across typical participants and there have been attempts to attribute these individual differences to the participants’ pragmatic language ability (Nieuwland et al. 2010). But these individual profiles have not received a uniform explanation yet (cf. e.g., Spychalska et al., 2014). The current project thus examines how scalar implicatures are processed in high-functioning autism and whether the different processing profiles in typical comprehenders can be associated with interindividual inferential strategies.