Toddlers Activate Lexical Semantic Knowledge in the Absence of Visual Referents: Evidence from Auditory Priming.

TitleToddlers Activate Lexical Semantic Knowledge in the Absence of Visual Referents: Evidence from Auditory Priming.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsWillits JA, Wojcik EH, Seidenberg MS, Saffran JR
JournalInfancy
Volume18
Issue6
Date Published2013 Nov
ISSN1525-0008
Abstract

Language learners rapidly acquire extensive semantic knowledge, but the development of this knowledge is difficult to study, in part because it is difficult to assess young children's lexical semantic representations. In our studies, we solved this problem by investigating lexical semantic knowledge in 24-month-olds using the Head-turn Preference Procedure. In Experiment 1, looking times to a repeating spoken word stimulus (e.g., kitty-kitty-kitty) were shorter for trials preceded by a semantically related word (e.g., dog-dog-dog) than trials preceded by an unrelated word (e.g., juice-juice-juice). Experiment 2 yielded similar results using a method in which pairs of words were presented on the same trial. The studies provide evidence that young children activate of lexical semantic knowledge, and critically, that they do so in the absence of visual referents or sentence contexts. Auditory lexical priming is a promising technique for studying the development and structure of semantic knowledge in young children.

DOI10.1111/infa.12026
Alternate JournalInfancy
PubMed ID24409090
PubMed Central IDPMC3883433
Grant ListP30 HD003352 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
R01 HD037466 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
R37 HD037466 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States