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PSYC 304 (6)


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McGill University
PSYC 304
Kristine Onishi

PSYC 304 - Reading Notes - LANGUAGE 2 [BERGELSON & SWINGLEY] - At 6-9 months, human infants know the meanings of many common nouns - infants know the meanings of several common words from 6 mo onwards - researchers presented 6-9 mo w/ sets of pictures to view while parent named a picture in each set o infants directed their gaze to the named pictures - discovery of word meanings suggests a perspective in which learning vocabulary and learning the sound structure of spoken language go hand in hand as language acquisition begins - because of complexities inherent in language understanding, predominant view is that word learning is possible only when kids can surmise intentions of others enough to constrain infinite range of possible word meanings - skill believed to develop gradually after 9 mo o until 9 mo, infant’s native language held restricted to speech signal analysis Experimental Design - to examine young infants’ knowledge of word meaning used task called “language- guided looking” or “looking-while-listening” o infants’ fixations to named pictures used to measure word understanding - infants presented w/ visual displays, 2 discrete images, 1 of which labeled in spoken sentence like “Look at the apple” - parents uttered each sentence, ensuring infants heard words pronounced by familiar voice of their parent - each infant experienced two kinds of trial: o two discrete images (paired-picture trials) o single complex scene (scene trials) - food-related words and body-part words were tested Results - for paired-picture trails, word recognition performance was operationalized as difference of fixation proportions o 26 out of 33 infants showed a positive mean difference score o infants showed positive performance on 6 of 8 item pairs - for scene trials, word recognition performance was operationalized as proportion of target looking upon hearing the target word, minus proportion of target looking before hearing the word o 22 out of 33 infants showed positive proportion of target looking; performance was statistically significant over subj
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