The World of Language Development: Relations Between Cross-Situational Word Learning and Lexical Processing

Faculty Sponsor

Abbie Thompson


Arts and Sciences


Psychology, Language Development

ORCID Identifier(s)


Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-28-2022


Children are excellent word learners, but how they figure out the names for things is debated. Through cross-situational word learning (CSWL) infants are able to learn word-object pairings by tracking label and object co-occurrences (Yu et al., 2011). Lexical processing (LP), the ability to process speech, is related to other types of statistical learning (Lany et at., 2018), vocabulary development (Fernald et al., 2006), and learning word-object mappings (Lany, 2018). Given that LP is related to various aspects of language development, the current study investigates if there is a similar relationship between LP and CSWL.

Participants will include two- to five-year-olds (N=75). LP will be tested using the visual word paradigm (Law et al., 2016). On each trial children see 4 objects on a screen and are asked to look at one of them. Children’s accuracy is used to measure their LP. CSWL will be measured for interleaved and massed items in which children must track co-occurrence information to learn the word-object mappings, similar to that used by Vlach & Johnson (2013). Children’s CSWL is assessed as their accuracy of looking at the correct referent over a distractor. The relation between children’s LP and CSWL will be assessed with regression. We predict that infants who are better at LP will be better able to learn the word-object pairings in the CSWL task. The implications of these results will aid our understanding of the mechanisms that support word learning.

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