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Are words special in early development?

The impact of words and actions in preverbal cognitive learning

dc.contributor.advisorMani, Nivedita Prof. Dr.
dc.contributor.authorBothe, Ricarda
dc.titleAre words special in early development?de
dc.title.alternativeThe impact of words and actions in preverbal cognitive learningde
dc.contributor.refereeElsner, Birgit Prof. Dr.
dc.description.abstractengIn the realm of early development, words have been considered as unique due to their ability to facilitate the formation of physical object categories by highlighting common visual features among them. Nevertheless, infants are frequently exposed to words from an early age, and as such, they are highly familiar with words which can potentially explain word effects in category formation. This thesis aimed to reassess the role of words in early cognition by comparing their effect to that of equally familiar cues from the visual modality, namely actions, which were matched to the arbitrariness of word-object relations. Prior research has shown that infants fail to learn word-object associations in the presence of actions despite the synchronous presentation of these cues in natural interactions with caregivers. To investigate the source of this discrepancy, I administered a study in which infants were presented with words, actions, and objects either synchronously or sequentially. The results indicated that only 2-year-olds exhibited learning of word-object and action-object associations when these cues were presented synchronously, but not sequentially. Conversely, 1-year-olds did not exhibit learning for either cue, suggesting that the demands of multisensory processing in laboratory settings may exceed their processing capacities, thereby disrupting learning of the associations. Although the first study presented in this thesis demonstrated that words and actions are associated with objects in a similar way, we found notable differences in the way that they shape the formation of object categories in the second study. Specifically, we found some evidence that words, but not actions or a combination of words and actions, led infants to form an object category at test, as evidenced by visual novelty preference. Words, therefore, seem to have an advantage in early concept formation, as they allow infants to group physical objects into a single mental representation, a feat that similarly familiar and arbitrary cues from different modalities cannot achieve. In summary, this thesis has highlighted the unique role of words in early development, which contributes to the formation of
dc.contributor.coRefereeGail, Alexander Prof. Dr.
dc.subject.engearly developmentde
dc.subject.engword learningde
dc.subject.engaction understandingde
dc.subject.engassociative learningde
dc.subject.engcategory learningde
dc.subject.engconcept acquisitionde
dc.affiliation.instituteBiologische Fakultät für Biologie und Psychologiede
dc.subject.gokfullPsychologie (PPN619868627)de
dc.notes.confirmationsentConfirmation sent 2023-08-03T09:45:01de

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