Communication and Categorization: New Insights into the Relation Between Speech, Labels and Concepts for Infants

Brock Ferguson, Sandra R. Waxman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

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 languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCooperative Minds
Subtitle of host publicationSocial Interaction and Group Dynamics - Proceedings of the 35th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, CogSci 2013
EditorsMarkus Knauff, Natalie Sebanz, Michael Pauen, Ipke Wachsmuth
PublisherThe Cognitive Science Society
Pages2267-2272
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780976831891
StatePublished - 2013
Event35th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society - Cooperative Minds: Social Interaction and Group Dynamics, CogSci 2013 - Berlin, Germany
Duration: Jul 31 2013Aug 3 2013

Publication series

NameCooperative Minds: Social Interaction and Group Dynamics - Proceedings of the 35th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, CogSci 2013

Conference

Conference35th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society - Cooperative Minds: Social Interaction and Group Dynamics, CogSci 2013
Country/TerritoryGermany
CityBerlin
Period7/31/138/3/13

Keywords

  • auditory overshadowing
  • categorization
  • concepts
  • infancy
  • language development
  • words

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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