Type of object motion facilitates word mapping in preverbal infants
Matatyaho, Dalit J.
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This study assessed whether specific types of object motion, in temporal synchrony with a spoken utterance, facilitate word-mapping in preverbal infants. Sixty, full-term 8-month-old infants were habituated to 2 word-object pairings (/baef/ and /wem/ - dragonfly, fish, lamb-chop, squiggly toy) in one of four experimental motion conditions---Shaking, Forward, Upward , and Sideways---and one All-Motion control condition. Infants were then given a test phase, which consisted of two mismatch (change) and two control (no change) trials, in their respective order. If infants learned the word-object pairings during habituation, interchanging the pairings should result in longer looking on the mismatch trials relative to the control trials. Results revealed that infants learned the word-object relations in the Shaking and Forward motion conditions, but not in the Upward, Sideways, and All-Motion control conditions. Infants learned the word-object relations in the Forward and Shaking conditions likely because these motions highlight or foreground the object for the infant. The results indicate that an adult's style, particularly type of motion, matters when preverbal infants are beginning to map words onto objects. Thus, preverbal infants learn word-object relations within an embodied system involving tightly coupled interactions between the infants' perception and specific properties of caregivers' naming.