Defining the Role Of Language in Infants' Object Categorization with Eye-tracking Paradigms

Alexander Latourrette*, Sandra R. Waxman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Assessing infant category learning is a challenging but vital aspect of studying infant cognition. By employing a familiarization-test paradigm, we straightforwardly measure infants’ success in learning a novel category while relying only on their looking behavior. Moreover, the paradigm can directly measure the impact of different auditory signals on the infant categorization across a range of ages. For instance, we assessed how 2-year-olds learn categories in a variety of labeling environments: in our task, 2-year-olds successfully learned categories when all exemplars were labeled or the first two exemplars were labeled, but they failed to categorize when no exemplars were labeled or only the final two exemplars were labeled. To determine infants’ success in such tasks, researchers can examine both the overall preference displayed by infants in each condition and infants’ pattern of looking over the course of the test phase, using an eye-tracker to provide fine-grained time-course data. Thus, we present a powerful paradigm for identifying the role of language, or any auditory signal, in infants’ object category learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere59291
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number144
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Behavior
  • Issue 144
  • categorization
  • eye-tracking
  • familiarization
  • infants
  • labels
  • language
  • learning
  • novelty preference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Neuroscience


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