Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Babies Use Their Own Names To Help Learn Language

Date:
May 14, 2005
Source:
Texas A&M University
Summary:
A baby's understanding of language may begin with its own name, which a baby uses to break sentences into smaller parts so it can learn other words, according to new research by Texas A&M University psychologist Heather Bortfeld, who studies language development in infants and children.

COLLEGE STATION, Apr. 11, 2005 - A baby's understanding of language may begin with its own name, which a baby uses to break sentences into smaller parts so it can learn other words, according to new research by Texas A&M University psychologist Heather Bortfeld, who studies language development in infants and children.

Related Articles


Bortfeld's research, which appears in the upcoming April issue of "Psychological Science," shows that babies use familiar words such as their names as a sort of "anchor" into the speech stream. A baby as young as six months can learn to recognize an individual word that follows its own name, even after hearing both words as part of whole sentences, says Bortfeld who worked with colleagues from Brown University and the University of Delaware.

"Recognition drives segmentation of the speech stream, and segmentation is a critical step in learning a language," Bortfeld explains. "We know from previous research that babies are recognizing their names in fluent speech by the age of six months, so we hypothesized that they should be able to use that recognition to segment the speech stream and recognize new words."

Much in the same way a person might have difficulty understanding a foreign language because it's hard to tell where one word starts and another begins, babies face a similar challenge in learning language. Bortfeld's research shows babies can begin to discern the beginnings and endings of words that follow their names, meaning their names form a foundation for learning language.

In what can be described as a "popping out" pattern, Bortfeld explains, one familiar word can allow a baby to pick out another word, and that newly familiar word may allow a baby to learn words that follow it.

Bortfeld and her colleagues tested babies by having them listen to sentences containing the pairing of one target word with the baby's own name such as "Emma's cup is here." The babies, Bortfeld explains, also listened to a different name paired with another word, such as "Autumn's bike is here." After the babies were exposed to the sentences, they were only allowed to hear the target word, "cup" or "bike." The babies, Bortfeld says, preferred listening to the word that had followed their own names as opposed to the ones that had not.

To ensure a baby recognized the target word that followed its name, Bortfeld had the babies listen to the two individual target words again, this time with two new random words. In this scenario, a baby, she says, listened longer to the target word that had followed its name in the previous experiment. The baby listened to the other target word that did not follow its own name for as long as it listened to the two new random words.

"Babies appear to use highly familiar words - their names for example - to anchor their early learning of other word forms, and if their name is the first word they recognize, then we're tapping into the process at the earliest stage possible," she explains.



Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University. "Babies Use Their Own Names To Help Learn Language." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 May 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050513230407.htm>.
Texas A&M University. (2005, May 14). Babies Use Their Own Names To Help Learn Language. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 3, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050513230407.htm
Texas A&M University. "Babies Use Their Own Names To Help Learn Language." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050513230407.htm (accessed March 3, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Researchers gave lidocaine to 112 patients, and about 88 percent of the subjects said they needed less migraine-relief medicine the next day. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) Margaret Duffy of the University of Missouri talks about her study on the social network and the envy and depression that Facebook use can cause. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods to Battle Stress

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) If you&apos;re dealing with anxiety, there are a few foods that can help. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the best foods to tame stress. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Newsy (Feb. 26, 2015) People who sleep more than eight hours per night are 45 percent more likely to have a stroke, according to a University of Cambridge study. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins