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Can you see what I am talking about? Human speech triggers referential expectation in four-month-old infants.

Marno H, Farroni T, Vidal Dos Santos Y, Ekramnia M, Nespor M, Mehler J - Sci Rep (2015)

Bottom Line: However, in order to successfully acquire language, one should also understand that speech is a referential, and that words can stand for other entities in the world.Our results showed that compared to other auditory stimuli or to silence, when infants were listening to speech they were more prepared to find some visual referents of the words, as signalled by their faster orienting towards the visual objects.Hence, our study is the first to report evidence that infants at a very young age already understand the referential relationship between auditory words and physical objects, thus show a precursor in appreciating the symbolic nature of language, even if they do not understand yet the meanings of words.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Language, Cognition and Development Lab, SISSA, Via Bonomea 265, Trieste, 34136, Italy.

ABSTRACT
Infants' sensitivity to selectively attend to human speech and to process it in a unique way has been widely reported in the past. However, in order to successfully acquire language, one should also understand that speech is a referential, and that words can stand for other entities in the world. While there has been some evidence showing that young infants can make inferences about the communicative intentions of a speaker, whether they would also appreciate the direct relationship between a specific word and its referent, is still unknown. In the present study we tested four-month-old infants to see whether they would expect to find a referent when they hear human speech. Our results showed that compared to other auditory stimuli or to silence, when infants were listening to speech they were more prepared to find some visual referents of the words, as signalled by their faster orienting towards the visual objects. Hence, our study is the first to report evidence that infants at a very young age already understand the referential relationship between auditory words and physical objects, thus show a precursor in appreciating the symbolic nature of language, even if they do not understand yet the meanings of words.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Design of Experiment 1.Each movie started with a fixation cross in the middle of the center of the screen, then a female face appeared and vocalized or silently moved her lips. Following this, she looked to the right or to the left direction of the screen. Then the face appeared and an object appeared, in a congruent direction with the eye-gaze.
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f1: Design of Experiment 1.Each movie started with a fixation cross in the middle of the center of the screen, then a female face appeared and vocalized or silently moved her lips. Following this, she looked to the right or to the left direction of the screen. Then the face appeared and an object appeared, in a congruent direction with the eye-gaze.

Mentions: Thirty, 4-month-old infants were tested using a looking time latency paradigm, and were shown videos of a female face, who was either talking in a normal way (Normal Speech Condition), or backward (Backward Speech Condition), or she was silently moving her lips (No Speech Condition), while she was looking at the infant. We selected backward speech because even though its auditory characteristics are very similar to those of normal speech, there is evidence that neither infants, nor adults process backward speech similarly to natural languages43031. In each trial, the movie ended with an averted eye-gaze of the speaker either to the left, or to the right side of the screen. Next, the face disappeared from the display and immediately after an object appeared in a direction congruent with the gaze (Fig. 1. and see examples of videos in the Supplementary Material). The latency of infants’ orienting to the objects was measured as the dependent variable.


Can you see what I am talking about? Human speech triggers referential expectation in four-month-old infants.

Marno H, Farroni T, Vidal Dos Santos Y, Ekramnia M, Nespor M, Mehler J - Sci Rep (2015)

Design of Experiment 1.Each movie started with a fixation cross in the middle of the center of the screen, then a female face appeared and vocalized or silently moved her lips. Following this, she looked to the right or to the left direction of the screen. Then the face appeared and an object appeared, in a congruent direction with the eye-gaze.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4555167&req=5

f1: Design of Experiment 1.Each movie started with a fixation cross in the middle of the center of the screen, then a female face appeared and vocalized or silently moved her lips. Following this, she looked to the right or to the left direction of the screen. Then the face appeared and an object appeared, in a congruent direction with the eye-gaze.
Mentions: Thirty, 4-month-old infants were tested using a looking time latency paradigm, and were shown videos of a female face, who was either talking in a normal way (Normal Speech Condition), or backward (Backward Speech Condition), or she was silently moving her lips (No Speech Condition), while she was looking at the infant. We selected backward speech because even though its auditory characteristics are very similar to those of normal speech, there is evidence that neither infants, nor adults process backward speech similarly to natural languages43031. In each trial, the movie ended with an averted eye-gaze of the speaker either to the left, or to the right side of the screen. Next, the face disappeared from the display and immediately after an object appeared in a direction congruent with the gaze (Fig. 1. and see examples of videos in the Supplementary Material). The latency of infants’ orienting to the objects was measured as the dependent variable.

Bottom Line: However, in order to successfully acquire language, one should also understand that speech is a referential, and that words can stand for other entities in the world.Our results showed that compared to other auditory stimuli or to silence, when infants were listening to speech they were more prepared to find some visual referents of the words, as signalled by their faster orienting towards the visual objects.Hence, our study is the first to report evidence that infants at a very young age already understand the referential relationship between auditory words and physical objects, thus show a precursor in appreciating the symbolic nature of language, even if they do not understand yet the meanings of words.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Language, Cognition and Development Lab, SISSA, Via Bonomea 265, Trieste, 34136, Italy.

ABSTRACT
Infants' sensitivity to selectively attend to human speech and to process it in a unique way has been widely reported in the past. However, in order to successfully acquire language, one should also understand that speech is a referential, and that words can stand for other entities in the world. While there has been some evidence showing that young infants can make inferences about the communicative intentions of a speaker, whether they would also appreciate the direct relationship between a specific word and its referent, is still unknown. In the present study we tested four-month-old infants to see whether they would expect to find a referent when they hear human speech. Our results showed that compared to other auditory stimuli or to silence, when infants were listening to speech they were more prepared to find some visual referents of the words, as signalled by their faster orienting towards the visual objects. Hence, our study is the first to report evidence that infants at a very young age already understand the referential relationship between auditory words and physical objects, thus show a precursor in appreciating the symbolic nature of language, even if they do not understand yet the meanings of words.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus