The current project explores how young children acquire the meanings that are expressed in language-specific semantic spatial categories. A multifaceted approach is taken in which aspects of both infant spatial cognition as well as the effect of language on infants' spatial categorization is examined across a number of experimental studies. In particular, a number of the experimental studies explore the content of infants' spatial categories (i.e., what types of spatial categories can preverbal and early-linguistic infants form?) as well as the underlying processes that guide infant categorization of spatial relations (i.e., what factors influence infants' categorization of spatial relations?). Additional experimental studies are designed to begin to outline the degree and mechanism by which linguistic input can influence infants' categorization of spatial events. For this reason, the types of spatial categories that English-learning infants and toddlers form will be compared to the types of spatial categories formed by Korean-learning infants and toddlers as well as those formed by Spanish-learning infants and toddlers. Other experimental studies explore whether the addition of linguistic input can facilitate infants' ability to form particular types of spatial categories. Together, the findings from the current project will provide insight into the nature of the interaction between infants' nonlinguistic spatial cognition and language during the first two years of development and will help elucidate how young children form the semantic spatial categories that are specific to their language. Finally, the findings will document whether the development of infant spatial categorization varies in infants and toddlers raised in different cultures and with languages other than English.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Small Research Grants (R03)
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Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZHD1-DSR-H (08))
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Mccardle, Peggy D
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Cornell University
Other Health Professions
Other Domestic Higher Education
United States
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Casasola, Marianella; Bhagwat, Jui; Burke, Anne S (2009) Learning to form a spatial category of tight-fit relations: how experience with a label can give a boost. Dev Psychol 45:711-23
Casasola, Marianella; Bhagwat, Jui (2007) Do novel words facilitate 18-month-olds'spatial categorization? Child Dev 78:1818-29
Wilbourn, Makeba Parramore; Casasola, Marianella (2007) Discriminating signs: perceptual precursors to acquiring a visual-gestural language. Infant Behav Dev 30:153-60
Kedar, Yarden; Casasola, Marianella; Lust, Barbara (2006) Getting there faster: 18- and 24-month-old infants' use of function words to determine reference. Child Dev 77:325-38
Casasola, Marianella (2005) When less is more: how infants learn to form an abstract categorical representation of support. Child Dev 76:279-90
Casasola, Marianella (2005) Can language do the driving? The effect of linguistic input on infants' categorization of support spatial relations. Dev Psychol 41:183-92