The Effect of Semantic Representation on Toddlers' Word Retrieval Purpose: This study tested the hypothesis that depth of semantic representation influences toddlers' word retrieval. Method: Nineteen toddlers participated under 3 word learning conditions in this longitudinal study. Gestures cued attention to object shape (SHP) or function (FNC) in the experimental conditions. No semantic cue was provided under a control ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 2005
The Effect of Semantic Representation on Toddlers' Word Retrieval
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Nina C. Capone
    Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  • Karla K. McGregor
    Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: caponeni@shu.edu
Article Information
Development / Normal Language Processing / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 2005
The Effect of Semantic Representation on Toddlers' Word Retrieval
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2005, Vol. 48, 1468-1480. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2005/102)
History: Received April 19, 2004 , Revised November 24, 2004 , Accepted April 19, 2005
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2005, Vol. 48, 1468-1480. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2005/102)
History: Received April 19, 2004; Revised November 24, 2004; Accepted April 19, 2005
Web of Science® Times Cited: 72

Purpose: This study tested the hypothesis that depth of semantic representation influences toddlers' word retrieval.

Method: Nineteen toddlers participated under 3 word learning conditions in this longitudinal study. Gestures cued attention to object shape (SHP) or function (FNC) in the experimental conditions. No semantic cue was provided under a control condition (CTL). Word learning conditions occurred on each of 3 days. On the 4th day, word retrieval was assessed across 3 levels of scaffolding (uncued picture naming, cued picture naming, picture recognition). Evidence of semantic representation was provided at fast and slow mapping intervals.

Results: Less scaffolding was necessary for word retrieval (uncued and cued naming) under experimental conditions than under the CTL condition. However, more SHP than FNC condition targets were retrieved for uncued picture naming. This latter difference may be related to the superior fast mapping of targets under the SHP condition. Toddlers stated object functions (slow mapping) comparably in the experimental conditions, but this was superior to CTL condition performance.

Conclusions: Word retrieval is a continuous behavior that is positively influenced by semantic representation. Semantic knowledge of objects can be enriched by shape or function gestures, thereby improving toddlers' object word productions. Shape cues appear to be more effective for this purpose.

Acknowledgments
This work was part of a doctoral dissertation completed by the first author and directed by the second author while both were at Northwestern University. We wish to thank Sandra Waxman, Susan Goldin-Meadow, and Steve Zecker for their contributions to project development and data analysis, as well as Julia Evans for additional discussion of our findings; Anne Graham, Kristy Grohne, Robyn Newman, Renee Reilly, and Li Sheng for discussion at every phase of the work; and Rosi Carr and Kanika So for careful reliability coding. We thank the families who participated in the study for welcoming us into their homes. The first author wishes to acknowledge support during data collection and analysis from a dissertation year fellowship awarded by Northwestern University. The second author was supported by Grant R29 DC 03698 from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders during the data collection and analysis of this project.
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