Word learning biases and vocabulary acquisition in typical and atypical development

Zuniga Montanez, Claudia Cecilia (2021). Word learning biases and vocabulary acquisition in typical and atypical development. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Abstract

Infants and young children are considered highly skilled word learners, and during the first years of life, they use different word learning biases to facilitate vocabulary learning. In this thesis I investigated the word learning biases used in typical and atypical development, how these learning biases affect word learning and vocabulary development, and how these word learning biases can be used as strategies to boost vocabulary growth. Three different populations with three different developmental paths and language characteristics were investigated: typically developing infants (Chapter 2), late talkers (Chapter 3) and children born preterm (Chapter 4). In Chapter 2, I investigated whether typically developing 17-month-olds can learn to use a function bias for object naming and generalisation, and the effect that a function bias intervention can have on general vocabulary growth. I found that infants can learn a function bias but that this does not provide any additional benefit for vocabulary growth than that provided by a shape bias. In Chapter 3, I investigated whether late talkers can be taught a shape bias for naming and generalising object labels, and whether this boosts their vocabulary development. The late talkers in my study learned to generalise known labels by shape, but were unable to use this knowledge for novel labels. Thus, I found no evidence that late talkers can learn a strategy that they could use to accelerate general vocabulary learning. Finally, in Chapter 4, I investigated the word learning biases children born preterm use and their vocabulary size and composition. Children born preterm in this study showed a shape bias for object generalisation, and showed similar vocabularies to those of full-term children. Overall, the findings across these three studies highlight the important role that word learning biases play in vocabulary learning, how infants will use strategies related to the words they learn in order to make word learning more efficient, and how cognitive processes, such as attention and statistical learning, are involved in the development of the word learning biases.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Supervisor(s):
Supervisor(s)EmailORCID
Krott, AndreaUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Bremner, Andrew J.UNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: Other
Other Funders: CONACYT Mexico
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/11314

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