BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

Electrophysiological evidence for the understanding of maternal speech by 9-month-old infants

Parise, E. and Csibra, Gergely (2012) Electrophysiological evidence for the understanding of maternal speech by 9-month-old infants. Psychological Science 23 (7), pp. 728-733. ISSN 0956-7976.

[img] Text (Refereed)
parise&csibra_2012.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (265Kb)
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0956797612438734

Abstract

Early word learning in infants relies on statistical, prosodic, and social cues that support speech segmentation and the attachment of meaning to words. It is debated whether such early word knowledge represents mere associations between sound patterns and visual object features, or reflects referential understanding of words. By measuring an event-related brain potential component known as the N400, we demonstrated that 9-month-old infants can detect the mismatch between an object appearing from behind an occluder and a preceding label with which their mother introduces it. Differential N400 amplitudes have been shown to reflect semantic priming in adults, and its absence in infants has been interpreted as a sign of associative word learning. By setting up a live communicative situation for referring to objects, we demonstrated that a similar priming effect also occurs in young infants. This finding may indicate that word meaning is referential from the outset of word learning and that referential expectation drives, rather than results from, vocabulary acquisition in humans.

Item Type: Article
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
Depositing User: Gergely Csibra
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2012 13:37
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/5391

Archive Staff Only (login required)

Edit/View Item Edit/View Item