Developmental Science

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Volume 6 Issue 5 (November 2003), Pages 449-603

Late talkers show no shape bias in a novel name extension task (pages 477-483)


By 2½ years of age, children typically show a shape bias in object naming – that is, they extend object names mostly to new instances with the same shape. The acquisition of a shape bias is related to a marked increase in the rate of object name learning. This study asks whether, conversely, children who do not readily acquire new object names lack a shape bias. Twelve 2‐ to 3‐year‐old ‘late talkers’– children whose total vocabularies rank below the 30th percentile for their age – were compared with age‐matched children with larger vocabularies in a novel object name extension task. The controls extended novel names across novel objects with the same shape. The late talkers showed no group perceptual bias, but many individuals extended novel names across objects with the same surface texture. The implications of the results both for the role of attentional biases in object name learning and for the etiology of some late talking are discussed.

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