Semantic Specificity in One-Year-Olds’ Word Comprehension

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2017-10-02

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© 2017 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. The present study investigated infants’ knowledge about familiar nouns. Infants (n = 46, 12–20-month-olds) saw two-image displays of familiar objects, or one familiar and one novel object. Infants heard either a matching word (e.g. “foot’ when seeing foot and juice), a related word (e.g. “sock” when seeing foot and juice) or a nonce word (e.g. “fep” when seeing a novel object and dog). Across the whole sample, infants reliably fixated the referent on matching and nonce trials. On the critical related trials we found increasingly less looking to the incorrect (but related) image with age. These results suggest that one-year-olds look at familiar objects both when they hear them labeled and when they hear related labels, to similar degrees, but over the second year increasingly rely on semantic fit. We suggest that infants’ initial semantic representations are imprecise, and continue to sharpen over the second postnatal year.

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10.1080/15475441.2017.1324308

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Bergelson, Elika, and Richard Aslin (2017). Semantic Specificity in One-Year-Olds’ Word Comprehension. Language Learning and Development, 13(4). pp. 481–501. 10.1080/15475441.2017.1324308 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/15797.

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Scholars@Duke

Bergelson

Elika Bergelson

Associate Research Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

Dr. Bergelson's lab has moved to Harvard Psychology; she retains an unremunerated research appointment at Duke through mid-2024 for logistical reasons. She formerly accepted PhD applicants through the Developmental and Cog/CogNeuro areas of P&N and the CNAP program.

In my research, I try to understand the interplay of processes during language acquisition.
In particular, I am interested in how word learning relates to other aspects of learning language (e.g. speech sound acquisition, grammar/morphology learning), and social/cognitive development more broadly (e.g. joint attention processes) in the first few years of life.

I pursue these questions using three main approaches: in-lab measures of early comprehension and production (eye-tracking, looking-time, and in EEG studies in collaboration with the Woldorff lab), and at-home measures of infants' linguistic and social environment (as in the SEEDLingS project).

More recently the lab is branching out to look at a wider range of human populations and at infants who are blind or deaf/heard of hearing.


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