Almost two decades of research has demonstrated that labels facilitate infants’ categorization of novel objects. Some interpret this as evidence of an early link between infants’ linguistic and conceptual systems. Others suggest that these effects stem exclusively from lower-level processing mechanisms in cross-modal perception, and that words promote categorization only because they are more familiar to infants than non-linguistic acoustic stimuli and therefore easier to process. Here we address these discrepant interpretations using a novel approach. We expose infants to unfamiliar non-linguistic stimuli (sine-wave tone sequences), manipulating the exposure conditions. For 6-month-olds, if the novel acoustic stimuli were embedded within a communicative episode, they subsequently facilitated categorization (Experiment 1), but if they were presented in a non-communicative episode, they had no such effect (Experiment 2). We propose a developmental model that takes infants’ burgeoning perceptual and conceptual capacities into account in identifying how communication and words are linked to concepts.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Title of host publication||Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society|
|Subtitle of host publication||Cooperative Minds: Social Interaction and Group Dynamics|
|Editors||Markus Knauff, Michael Pauen, Natalie Sebanz, Ipke Wachsmuth|
|Publisher||Cognitive Science Society|
|Number of pages||6|
|State||Published - 2013|
Ferguson, B., & Waxman, S. R. (2013). Communication and Categorization: New Insights into the Relation Between Speech, Labels and Concepts for Infants. In M. Knauff, M. Pauen, N. Sebanz, & I. Wachsmuth (Eds.), Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society: Cooperative Minds: Social Interaction and Group Dynamics (pp. 2267-2272). Cognitive Science Society.