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.

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 August 1, 2014 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 August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Work Can Be Stressful, But Is Unemployment Worse?

Work Can Be Stressful, But Is Unemployment Worse?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) A new study shows stress at work can be hard on your health, but people who are unemployed might be at even greater risk of health problems. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Google says it is following Europe's new "Right To Be Forgotten Law," which eliminates user information upon request, but only to a certain degree. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stroke Signs: Three Hour Deadline

Stroke Signs: Three Hour Deadline

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Sometimes the signs of a stroke are far from easy to recognize. Learn from one young father’s story on the signs of a stroke. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Grain Brain May Be Harming Us

Grain Brain May Be Harming Us

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Could eating carbohydrates be harmful to our brain health? Find out what one neurologist says about changing our diets. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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:
from the past week

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