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Title: Evidence for Referential Expectation in Four-Month-Old Infants
Authors: Marno, Hanna
Farroni, Teresa
Mehler, Jacques
Keywords: languagereferential expectationsymbol understandingdevelopment
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Hanna Marno, Teresa Farroni, Jacques Mehler, "Evidence for Referential Expectation in Four-Month-Old Infants" in: Paolo Bernardis, Carlo Fantoni, Walter Gerbino (eds.) "TSPC2014. Proceedings of the Trieste Symposium on Perception and Cognition, November 27-28", Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2014, pp. 69-71.
Infants’ sensitivity to selectively attend human speech and to
process it in a unique way has been widely reported in the
past. However, in order to successfully acquire language, one
should also understand that speech is a referential symbol
system, and that words can stand for other entities in the
world. While there has been some evidence showing that
young infants can make inferences about the communicative
intentions of a speaker, whether they would also appreciate
the direct relation between a specific word and its referent, is
still unknown. In the present study we tested four-month-old
infants to see whether they would expect to find a referent
when they hear human speech. Our results showed that
compared to other auditory stimulus or to silence, when
infants were listening to speech they were more prepared to
find some visual referents of the words, but only if the
speaker also provided additional referential cues. Thus, our
study is the first to report evidence that infants at a very
young age already appreciate the symbolic nature of language
and that they understand the referential relation between
auditory words and physical objects, even if they do not have
yet any knowledge about the meanings of words.
Type: Book Chapter
eISBN: 978-88-8303-610-1
Appears in Collections:TSPC2014: Proceedings of the Trieste Symposium on Perception and Cognition, November 27th-28th 2014

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