A principled link between object naming and representation is available to infants by seven months of age

Alexander LaTourrette, Dana Michelle Chan, Sandra R. Waxman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

By their first birthdays, infants represent objects flexibly as a function of not only whether but how the objects are named. Applying the same name to a set of different objects from the same category supports object categorization, with infants encoding commonalities among objects at the expense of individuating details. In contrast, applying a distinct name to each object supports individuation, with infants encoding distinct features at the expense of categorical information. Here, we consider the development of this nuanced link between naming and representation in infants’ first year. Infants at 12 months (Study 1; N = 55) and 7 months (Study 2; N = 96) participated in an online recognition memory task. All infants saw the same objects, but their recognition of these objects at test varied as a function of how they had been named. At both ages, infants successfully recognized objects that had been named with distinct labels but failed to recognize these objects when they had all been named with the same, consistent label. This new evidence demonstrates that a principled link between object naming and representation is available by 7 months, early enough to support infants as they begin mapping words to meaning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14328
JournalScientific reports
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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