Babies as young as five months old make distinctions about categories of events that their parents do not, revealing new information about how language develops in humans. The research by Sue Hespos, assistant professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University, and Elizabeth Spelke, professor of psychology at Harvard University, was published in the July 22 issue of Nature in the article “Conceptual precursors to language.”
“It’s been shown in previous studies that adults actually categorize things differently based on what language they speak,” Hespos said. “So, if language is influencing adults’ thought, one of our questions was, what’s going on with preverbal infants? Do children think before they speak?
“Language capitalizes on a pre-existing system of ‘I live in a 3-D world, I know how objects behave and interact,’” she continued. “This pre-existing ability suggests that children do think before they speak.”
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