Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Parents Naming Objects Shapes Infants’ Development

22.07.2011
A study conducted by University of Massachusetts Amherst psychologist Lisa Scott suggests that long before they are able to speak, infants hear words that shape their development in important ways. In an experiment, Scott found that the words parents use to name objects influence the developing brain and infants’ understanding of the world far earlier than researchers previously believed.

Scott’s results address a debate among research psychologists about the relation between the development of both language and concepts. While adults readily form abstract concepts of objects, animals, places and people, it has been unclear whether pre-verbal infants can do the same. Some researchers argue that infants under a year of age are extremely limited in their ability to use labels parents provide for objects to help them form concepts.

However, Scott’s experiment suggests that six- to nine-month-old infants are in fact using the labels they hear to form concepts of objects. She believes these early concepts form the basis for later learning. Her findings will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

“Our results suggest parents’ differential labeling of objects leads infants to form very different concepts and to have very different brain responses than when parents label all of the objects with the same name,” she says. “For example, learning that dogs are individuals named ‘Oliver’ or ‘Suzie’ leads to a different understanding of dogs than if all dogs are labeled ‘dog.’” Scott also points out that “sometimes learning individuals is more advantageous than learning categories of things. Learning to recognize individual faces is a prime example of this.”

In this study, Scott followed 38 infants from six to nine months of age. Parents brought their babies to the laboratory once at each of these ages; in between they read a picture book to their infants according to a training schedule. At the two visits to the lab, she measured babies’ ability to tell the difference between images of objects as well as their brain responses to the images.

To measure brain responses, Scott measured signals from 128 recording electrodes in a net-like hat on each baby’s head while he or she looked at photographs of upright or upside-down strollers. This assessed whether the infants exhibited holistic processing, or the tendency to ignore separate parts of an object and instead focus on the whole. Holistic processing is found in adults when they learn individual-level labels for objects. Prior to the training, brain responses of all infants in this experiment were similar.

For the training, Scott randomly assigned the infants to one of two learning groups. Parents of babies in each group were asked to read a picture book to their infants that included photos of six different strollers with labels. One group received a book in which the strollers were each labeled differently with nonsense names such as “Wuggum” or “Zoneep.” Parents in the other group read the same book to their babies except the six strollers were give one generic label, “stroller.”

Scott found that though none of the babies could tell the strollers apart when they were six months old, after training those who learned the different stroller names were able to distinguish between new pictures of strollers at nine months. By contrast, infants who heard the generic label for all strollers were not able to tell the new strollers apart.

Babies in the individual-label group significantly increased their ability to tell the strollers apart from 51 percent before training to 64.7 percent after, while infants who learned the generic labels showed no change, at 48 percent in both the pre- and post-test.

“These results are noteworthy because the strollers used in the discrimination task were not the same strollers as in the training book. Therefore infants took what they learned from the book and applied it to new pictures of strollers, suggesting the formation of a concept,” Scott says.

The findings from this study support her hypothesis that if infants learn different labels for the strollers their brains show a pattern of activity suggestive of holistic processing. This pattern is not present for infants who learned the generic level label. “By naming the strollers individually, parents taught their infants that each stroller is unique and inferred that it is important to know the difference between them.”

This is new evidence suggesting that conceptual learning begins early during the first year of life, even before infants can utter their first words. Scott suggests “parents should actively label objects, animals, people and places during the first year of life to promote conceptual development.”

In the future, the UMass Amherst research psychologist hopes to study what happens when babies are provided with individual-level labels for unfamiliar faces, for example people of a different race, to learn whether individual-level labeling will influence their recognition processing for faces of people they do not often encounter.

Lisa Scott | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.umass.edu

More articles from Science Education:

nachricht Decision-making research in children: Rules of thumb are learned with time
19.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht Young people discover the "Learning Center"
20.09.2016 | Research Center Pharmaceutical Engineering GmbH

All articles from Science Education >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>