Early Word Comprehension in Infants: Replication and Extension.

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A handful of recent experimental reports have shown that infants of 6 to 9 months know the meanings of some common words. Here, we replicate and extend these findings. With a new set of items, we show that when young infants (age 6-16 months, n=49) are presented with side-by-side video clips depicting various common early words, and one clip is named in a sentence, they look at the named video at above-chance rates. We demonstrate anew that infants understand common words by 6-9 months, and that performance increases substantially around 14 months. The results imply that 6-9 month olds' failure to understand words not referring to objects (verbs, adjectives, performatives) in a similar prior study is not attributable to the use of dynamic video depictions. Thus, 6-9 month olds' experience of spoken language includes some understanding of common words for concrete objects, but relatively impoverished comprehension of other words.






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Bergelson, Elika, and Daniel Swingley (n.d.). Early Word Comprehension in Infants: Replication and Extension. Lang Learn Dev, 11(4). pp. 369–380. 10.1080/15475441.2014.979387 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/12627.

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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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