What Babies See May Be Able to Predict Their First Words Children’s visual experiences could influence their first words, according to new research from Indiana University (IU). Senior study author Linda Smith and her team found that infants may link objects they most frequently see with words they frequently hear. In the small-scale study, published in the journal Royal Society Philosophical ... Research in Brief
Free
Research in Brief  |   March 01, 2017
What Babies See May Be Able to Predict Their First Words
Author Notes
Article Information
Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Professional Issues & Training / Language Disorders / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   March 01, 2017
What Babies See May Be Able to Predict Their First Words
The ASHA Leader, March 2017, Vol. 22, 12. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB4.22032017.12
The ASHA Leader, March 2017, Vol. 22, 12. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB4.22032017.12
Children’s visual experiences could influence their first words, according to new research from Indiana University (IU).
Senior study author Linda Smith and her team found that infants may link objects they most frequently see with words they frequently hear. In the small-scale study, published in the journal Royal Society Philosophical Transactions B, they coin the term “pervasiveness hypothesis” to describe this new theory of language development.
“Visual memory may be the initial key to getting words stuck on objects—familiar visual objects like table, shirt, bottle or spoon,” says Smith, a professor in IU Bloomington’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. “It’s an aggregated experience; those very first words may be learned—slowly and incrementally—for a few visually pervasive objects. This may be how infants begin to break into language before their first birthday.”
The researchers analyzed video footage from cameras mounted on eight children’s heads, each for an average of 4.4 hours, paying special attention to mealtimes and the objects present at those times. The children—five girls and three boys—were 8 to 10 months old.
During mealtimes, one image was sampled from the footage every five seconds, during which a total of 745 unique objects were recorded in the babies’ view. Seven of those unique objects—less than 1 percent of the 745—accounted for 33 percent of all object occurrences. These frequently occurring objects were mostly “first nouns,” which the researchers defined as words that half of all 16-month-olds have developed, such as “bottle” or “food.”
“That infants’ visual environment during mealtime consistently involves a very small number of objects—and the names of these high-frequency objects are among those normally learned first by infants—suggests visual experience is doing the heavy lifting in very early word learning,” says first-listed author Elizabeth Clerkin, a PhD student in Smith’s department.
The study results may help inform future interventions for children with language disorders; difficulty learning words could be caused by visual-processing problems, Smith adds.
0 Comments
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Name
Comment Title
Comment


This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
FROM THIS ISSUE
March 2017
Volume 22, Issue 3