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Cognition. 2012 Dec;125(3):339-52. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2012.08.006. Epub 2012 Sep 16.

Predictable locations aid early object name learning.

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Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, 1101 East 10th Street, Bloomington, IN 47405, United States.


Expectancy-based localized attention has been shown to promote the formation and retrieval of multisensory memories in adults. Three experiments show that these processes also characterize attention and learning in 16- to 18-month old infants and, moreover, that these processes may play a critical role in supporting early object name learning. The three experiments show that infants learn names for objects when those objects have predictable rather than varied locations, that infants who anticipate the location of named objects better learn those object names, and that infants integrate experiences that are separated in time but share a common location. Taken together, these results suggest that localized attention, cued attention, and spatial indexing are an inter-related set of processes in young children that aid in the early building of coherent object representations. The relevance of the experimental results and spatial attention for everyday word learning are discussed.

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