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Six-month-old Word Learners

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Photo of a father holding a baby.

Prior research and conventional thinking suggests word learning doesn't start until around a child's first birthday. But new research suggests there might be some word recognition at 6-7 months.

Credit: Thinkstock


Here, the green dot tracks an infant's eyes as the infant looks at a hand in response to prompting by a parent.

Credit: Elika Bergelson and Daniel Swingley, Psychology Department, University of Pennsylvania


Since 6 to 9-month-old babies normally lack language skills, researchers used eye-tracking software to gauge an infant's visual fixations on named pictures as a test of his or her word understanding. Here, a parent asks an infant to look at the bottle and the eye-tracking software measures the response.

Credit: Elika Bergelson and Daniel Swingley, Psychology Department, University of Pennsylvania


Photo of a 10-month-old baby held by a woman watching images on a monitor.

Researchers say young infants know their own name or the words "mommy" or "daddy." Now, new research shows infants have knowledge about word categories that are part of their daily lives, to include words related to foods and body parts.

Credit: Elika Bergelson, Psychology Department, University of Pennsylvania

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