Roses Are Red, Socks Are Blue: Switching Dimensions Disrupts Young Children's Language Comprehension.

TitleRoses Are Red, Socks Are Blue: Switching Dimensions Disrupts Young Children's Language Comprehension.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsPomper R, Saffran JR
JournalPLoS One
Volume11
Issue6
Paginatione0158459
Date Published2016
ISSN1932-6203
Abstract

Language is used to identify objects in many different ways. An apple can be identified using its name, color, and other attributes. Skilled language comprehension requires listeners to flexibly shift between different dimensions. We asked whether this shifting would be difficult for 3-year-olds, who have relatively immature executive function skills and struggle to switch between dimensions in card sorting tasks. In the current experiment, children first heard a series of sentences identifying objects using a single dimension (either names or colors). In the second half of the experiment, the labeling dimension was switched. Children were significantly less accurate in fixating the correct object following the dimensional switch. This disruption, however, was temporary; recognition accuracy recovered with increased exposure to the new labeling dimension. These findings provide the first evidence that children's difficulty in shifting between dimensions impacts their ability to comprehend speech. This limitation may affect children's ability to form rich, multi-dimensional representations when learning new words.

DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0158459
Alternate JournalPLoS ONE
PubMed ID27355690
PubMed Central IDPMC4927186
Grant ListR37 HD037466 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
T32 DC005359 / DC / NIDCD NIH HHS / United States