EVANSTON, Ill., March 27 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers found even for infants as young as 3 months, words play an important role in their cognition.
Alissa Ferry, Susan Hespos and Sandra Waxman, all from the psychology department in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, said the infants were shown a series of pictures of fish that were paired with words or beeps.
Infants in the word group were told, "Look at the toma!" -- a made-up word for fish, as they viewed each picture.
Other infants heard a series of beeps carefully matched to the labeling phrases for tone and duration.
The infants were then shown a picture of a new fish and a dinosaur side by side as the researchers measured how long they looked at each picture. If the infants formed the category, they would look longer at one picture than the other, the researchers said.
The study, published in the journal Child Development, found that although infants in the word and tone groups saw exactly the same pictures for exactly the same amount of time, those who heard words formed the category fish; those who heard tones did not.