In their first 4 years of language learning, children acquire roughly 15000 words. Understanding how they acquire so many words so quickly is fundamental to understanding a critical aspect of human cognition: how natural predispositions interact with learning mechanisms to carve the world into the categories encoded by language. Answering this question is in turn a prerequisite for understanding disorders in language development and the commonly observed links between language disorders and other learning disabilities. In this research, we investigate a """"""""shape bias"""""""" in children's early word learning. As first reported by Landau, Smith, & Jones (1988), 2- and 3 year-old children who are given a novel name for a novel object extend the name to other objects that are the same shape as the exemplar, regardless of variations in texture and size. We believe that the shape bias provides an important new window on the mechanisms of word acquisition and especially the interaction of perception, language, and knowledge in first language learning. The present research consists of 9 experiments directed to three objectives: (1) Tracking the developmental origins of the shape bias, in interactions between object knowledge, perception, and language. Five experiments examine the shape bias in children 16 months to 5 years of age. We are specifically interested in how the perceptual properties of rigid objects and language might interact to create and refine the shape bias. (2) Challenging the shape bias: two experiments examine the """"""""moveability"""""""" of the shape bias in children from 24 to 48 months of age. These experiments follow up on previous findings that the shape bias is at first fragile, then strong and rigidly applied, then more flexible and differentiated. (3) The shape bias and category induction: two experiments ask whether newly-formed categories based on shape will support children's induction. Such inductions provide an important mechanism for the growth of category knowledge. In the core method, children are presented with novel 3-dimensional objects, made of wood, wire, or cloth. The object is named. The children then decide whether other objects can be called by the same name. This method duplicates the natural context of first word acquisitions.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
1R01HD028675-01
Application #
3330252
Study Section
Human Development and Aging Subcommittee 3 (HUD)
Project Start
1992-02-01
Project End
1995-01-31
Budget Start
1992-02-01
Budget End
1993-01-31
Support Year
1
Fiscal Year
1992
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Name
Indiana University Bloomington
Department
Type
Schools of Arts and Sciences
DUNS #
006046700
City
Bloomington
State
IN
Country
United States
Zip Code
47401
Carvalho, Paulo F; Vales, Catarina; Fausey, Caitlin M et al. (2017) Novel names extend for how long preschool children sample visual information. J Exp Child Psychol 168:1-18
Jayaraman, Swapnaa; Fausey, Caitlin M; Smith, Linda B (2017) Why are faces denser in the visual experiences of younger than older infants? Dev Psychol 53:38-49
Kuwabara, Megumi; Smith, Linda B (2016) Cultural differences in visual object recognition in 3-year-old children. J Exp Child Psychol 147:22-38
Montag, Jessica L; Jones, Michael N; Smith, Linda B (2015) The Words Children Hear: Picture Books and the Statistics for Language Learning. Psychol Sci 26:1489-96
Vales, Catarina; Smith, Linda B (2015) Words, shape, visual search and visual working memory in 3-year-old children. Dev Sci 18:65-79
Smith, Linda; Yu, Chen; Yoshida, Hanako et al. (2015) Contributions of head-mounted cameras to studying the visual environments of infants and young children. J Cogn Dev 16:407-419
Augustine, Elaine; Jones, Susan S; Smith, Linda B et al. (2015) Relations among early object recognition skills: Objects and letters. J Cogn Dev 16:221-235
Smith, Linda B; Suanda, Sumarga H; Yu, Chen (2014) The unrealized promise of infant statistical word-referent learning. Trends Cogn Sci 18:251-8
Smith, Linda B; Street, Sandra; Jones, Susan S et al. (2014) Using the axis of elongation to align shapes: developmental changes between 18 and 24 months of age. J Exp Child Psychol 123:15-35
James, Karin H; Jones, Susan S; Swain, Shelley et al. (2014) Some views are better than others: evidence for a visual bias in object views self-generated by toddlers. Dev Sci 17:338-51

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