A Learned Label Modulates Object Representations in 10-Month-Old Infants


Despite substantial evidence for a bidirectional relationship between language and representation, the roots of this relationship in infancy are not known. The current study explores the possibility that labels may affect object representations at the earliest stages of language acquisition. We asked parents to play with their 10-month-old infants with two novel toys for three minutes, every day for a week, teaching infants a novel word for one toy but not the other. After a week infants participated in a familiarization task in which they saw each object for 8 trials in silence, followed by a test trial consisting of both objects accompanied by the trained word. Infants exhibited a faster decline in looking times to the previously unlabeled object. These data speak to the current debate over the status of labels in human cognition, supporting accounts in which labels are an integral part of representation.

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