The Origins of Verb Learning: Preverbal and Postverbal Infants' Learning of Word–Action Relations Purpose This experiment examined English- or Spanish-learning preverbal (8–9 months, n = 32) and postverbal (12–14 months, n = 40) infants' learning of word–action pairings prior to and after the transition to verb comprehension and its relation to naturally learned vocabulary. Method Infants of both verbal levels were ... Research Article
Newly Published
Research Article  |   November 15, 2017
The Origins of Verb Learning: Preverbal and Postverbal Infants' Learning of Word–Action Relations
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Lakshmi Gogate
    University of Missouri, Columbia
  • Madhavilatha Maganti
    Ashoka University, Sonepat, India
    University of Hyderabad, Gachibowli, India
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Lakshmi Gogate: gogatel@health.missouri.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond
    Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond×
  • Editor: Lizbeth Finestack
    Editor: Lizbeth Finestack×
Article Information
Development / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Newly Published / Research Article
Research Article   |   November 15, 2017
The Origins of Verb Learning: Preverbal and Postverbal Infants' Learning of Word–Action Relations
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, Newly Published. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-17-0085
History: Received March 6, 2017 , Revised June 8, 2017 , Accepted August 4, 2017
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, Newly Published. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-17-0085
History: Received March 6, 2017; Revised June 8, 2017; Accepted August 4, 2017

Purpose This experiment examined English- or Spanish-learning preverbal (8–9 months, n = 32) and postverbal (12–14 months, n = 40) infants' learning of word–action pairings prior to and after the transition to verb comprehension and its relation to naturally learned vocabulary.

Method Infants of both verbal levels were first habituated to 2 dynamic video displays of novel word–action pairings, the words /wem/ or /bæf/, spoken synchronously with an adult shaking or looming an object, and tested with interchanged (switched) versus same word–action pairings. Mothers of the postverbal infants were asked to report on their infants' vocabulary on the MacArthur–Bates Communicative Development Inventories (Fenson et al., 1994).

Results The preverbal infants looked longer to the switched relative to same pairings, suggesting word–action mapping, but not the postverbal infants. Mothers of the postverbal infants reported a noun bias on the MacArthur–Bates Communicative Development Inventories; infants learned more nouns than verbs in the natural environment. Further analyses revealed marginal word–action mapping in postverbal infants who learned fewer nouns and only comprehended verbs (post–verb comprehension), but not in those who learned more nouns and also produced verbs (post–verb production).

Conclusions These findings on verb learning from inside and outside the laboratory suggest a developmental shift from domain-general to language-specific mechanisms. Long before they talk, infants learning a noun-dominant language learn synchronous word–action relations. As a postverbal language-specific noun bias develops, this learning temporarily diminishes.

Supplemental Materials https://doi.org/10.23641/asha.5592637

Acknowledgments
This research was conducted at Florida Gulf Coast University. It was supported in part by grants from the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation (12-FY08-155), the National Science Foundation (NSF, BCS 1123890) to Lakshmi Gogate, and the Department of Science and Technology (SR/WOS/-A/ET-143/2011), Government of India to Madhavilatha Maganti. Portions of these data were presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, March 2015, Philadelphia, PA, and summarized in reviews (Gogate & Hollich, 2016; Gogate & Maganti, 2016). The authors are very grateful to the infants and mothers who participated, to Dalit Matatyaho-Bullaro for the stimuli, and to Arlene Walker-Andrews for her comments on earlier versions of this paper. The authors especially thank Jamie Goldman, Tamara Santos, Kerry Laing, Kendall Jeffries, Kabreea Dunn, Rachel Boyko, Victoria Pereira, Carlos Herrera, Paul Milford, and Steven Oberheim for their assistance with testing and Claudia Lastre, Elisa Salomoni, and Jacqueline Thorsen for data entry and preliminary analyses.
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