Scientific article
Open access

Looking and touching: what extant approaches reveal about the structure of early word knowledge

Published inDevelopmental science, vol. 18, no. 5, p. 723-735
Publication date2015

The goal of the current study is to assess the temporal dynamics of vision and action to evaluate the underlying word representations that guide infants' responses. Sixteen-month-old infants participated in a two-alternative forced-choice word– picture matching task. We conducted a moment-by-moment analysis of looking and reaching behaviors as they occurred in tandem to assess the speed with which a prompted word was processed (visual reaction time) as a function of the type of haptic response: Target, Distractor, or No Touch. Visual reaction times (visual RTs) were significantly slower during No Touches compared to Distractor and Target Touches, which were statistically indistinguishable. The finding that visual RTs were significantly faster during Distractor Touches compared to No Touches suggests that incorrect and absent haptic responses appear to index distinct knowledge states: incorrect responses are associated with partial knowledge whereas absent responses appear to reflect a true failure to map lexical items to their target referents. Further, we found that those children who were faster at processing words were also those children who exhibited better haptic performance. This research provides a methodological clarification on knowledge measured by the visual and haptic modalities and new evidence for a continuum of word knowledge in the second year of life.

Citation (ISO format)
HENDRICKSON, Kristi et al. Looking and touching: what extant approaches reveal about the structure of early word knowledge. In: Developmental science, 2015, vol. 18, n° 5, p. 723–735. doi: 10.1111/desc.12250
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1363-755X

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