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Dev Psychol. 1998 Nov;34(6):1289-309.

Acquisition of word-object associations by 14-month-old infants.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. jwerker@cortex.psych.ubc.ca

Abstract

The following experiments were designed to determine the age at which infants can first readily learn word--object pairings with only minimal exposure and without social or contextual support. To address this question, 8- to 14-month-old infants were tested on their ability to form word--object associations in a "switch" design. Infants were habituated to 2 word--object pairings and then tested with 1 trial that maintained a familiar word--object pairing and 1 that involved a familiar word and object in a new combination. Across 6 experiments, only 14-month-old infants formed word--object associations under these controlled testing conditions but appeared to do so only when the objects were moving. Although 8- to 12-month-olds did not form the associations, they appeared to process both the word and the object information. These studies provide strong evidence that 14-month-old infants can rapidly learn arbitrary associations between words and objects, that this ability appears to develop at about 14 months of age, and that the Switch design is a useful method for assessing word--object learning in infancy.

PMID:
9823513
DOI:
10.1037//0012-1649.34.6.1289
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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