Potential relevance of general purpose mechanisms to the onset of language: Audio-visual integration of object attributes  

Klintfors, E., Lacerda, F., Marklund, E., Gustavsson, L., Sundberg, U. & Bjursäter, U.

In the ESF Research Conference on Brain Development and Cognition in Human Infants - From Action to Cognition, Acquafredda di Maratea, Italy, 1-6 October 2005: pages.


The paper addresses the issue of extraction of implicit information conveyed by systematic audio-visual contingencies. A group of infants was tested, with help of the Eye-Tracking analysis system, on a simple inference task provided by short film sequences. The video sequences displayed geometrical objects while the audio played two-word utterances, spoken in an artificial language mimicking the Swedish phonotactics, implicitly referring to the different shapes and colours of the objects. The films were initiated with a static baseline image where the display was divided in four quadrants showing four objects, one in each quadrant. This initial procedure was intended to measure the subject's spontaneous looking preference towards each of the objects. Finally after the exposure phase, a test phase was initiated where questions equivalent to "Can you see a cube?" or "Can you see the red (one)?" spoken in the artificial language were asked. At this point the results suggest that the subjects are efficient at picking up the underlying information structure. Further analyses are expected to show more differentiated picture regarding the performance of infants of different age as well as generalization of nouns and adjectives. This is currently being analyzed and will be reported at the conference.

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