Create Account | Sign In: Author or Forum

 
News  |  Journals  |  Conferences  |  Opinion  |  Articles  |  Forums  |  Twitter    
 
Category: Pediatrics | News

Back to Health News

Babies May Be Smarter Than You Think

Last Updated: February 15, 2012.

 

Word comprehension is evident at 6 or 9 months, study finds

Share |

Comments: (0)

Tell-a-Friend

 

  Related
 
Word comprehension is evident at 6 or 9 months, study finds.

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Babies can understand many words sooner than they can actually say them, a new study indicates.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania say 6- to 9-month old babies learn the meaning of the words for certain foods and body parts through their daily exposure to language. They said most psychologists don't think this type of word comprehension is possible until a child is closer to 1 year.

"I think it's surprising in the sense that the kids at this age aren't saying anything, they're not pointing, they're not walking," said the study's co-author, Elika Bergelson, a doctoral student in Penn's department of psychology, in a university news release. "But actually, under the surface, they're trying to put together the things in the world with the words that go with them."

In conducting the study, researchers had 33 babies between 6 and 9 months old view a screen with a picture of a food and a body part while sitting with their parents. The parents were given phrases to say to the child, asking them to find the apple, for instance. An eye-tracking device revealed the babies' responses to the phrases.

In a second test, the children went through the same process but saw pictures of typical food scenes and a whole person, not just body parts.

After taking into account possible reasons for errors or distraction among the babies, the researchers compared the responses of the 6- to 9-month-old infants with those of 50 other babies ranging from 10 to 20 months of age.

In both tests, the researchers found the 6- to 9-month-olds looked more often at the picture that was named than any other images. The researchers argued this was a sign that they knew what the word meant.

"There had been a few demonstrations of understanding before, involving words like 'mommy' and 'daddy,'" study co-author, Daniel Swingley, an associate professor in the psychology department, said in the news release. "Our study is different in looking at more generic words, words that refer to categories."

Bergelson added, "We're testing things that look different every time you see them. There's some variety in apples and noses, and 'nose' doesn't just mean your nose; it could mean anybody's nose. This is one of the things that makes word learning complicated: Words often refer to categories, not just individuals."

The study's authors said babies at 8 and 9 months performed no better than 6- and 7-month-old infants. They said no significant improvement was seen until the children reached about 14 months of age. They could not explain exactly why performance did not improve for so long.

"I think this study presents a great message to parents: You can talk to your babies and they're going to understand a bit of what you're saying," Swingley concluded. "They're not going to give us back witty repartee, but they understand some of it. And the more they know, the more they can build on what they know."

Their study was published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information on infant development.

SOURCE: University of Pennsylvania, news release, Feb. 13, 2012

Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Previous: Health Highlights: Feb. 15, 2012 Next: Respiratory Virus Killed 8 Military Recruits After Vaccination Program Halted

Reader comments on this article are listed below. Review our comments policy.


Submit your opinion:

Name:

Email:

Location:

URL:

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

advertisement.gif (61x7 -- 0 bytes)
 

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

 
     

 advertisement.gif (61x7 -- 0 bytes)

 

 

Useful Sites
MediLexicon
  Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us
Copyright © 2001-2014
Doctors Lounge.
All rights reserved.

Medical Reference:
Diseases | Symptoms
Drugs | Labs | Procedures
Software | Tutorials

Advertising
Links | Humor
Forum Archive
CME | Conferences

Privacy Statement
Terms & Conditions
Editorial Board
About us | Email

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.