The communication with experienced speakers is an important instrument for infants and toddlers to gain knowledge about their surrounding world. A crucial aspect of this communication is the interaction of verbal and gestural information. In introducing a child to a new object and to the label for this object, caregivers often accompany their words with actions that emphasise the salience of the object (Gogate, Maganti, & Laing, 2013; Koterba & Iverson, 2009). Furthermore, there is evidence that verbal information given by the model during action demonstration affects how infants process and reproduce observed actions (e.g., Fukuyama & Myowa-Yamakoshi, 2013; Southgate, Chevallier & Csibra, 2009). This suggests that information from the different domains might interact in learning situations of language and actions (Matatyaho-Bullaro, Gogate, Mason, Cadavid, & Abdel-Mottaleb, 2014).
Against this background, the proposed research will characterise the development of infants’ processing of spoken language and actions by examining the extent to which information from one domain influences processing of information in the other domain in the context of the visual world. Therefore, we will examine a) how infants’ mapping of labels to novel objects is influenced by the kinds of actions performed on the objects during labelling, and b) how verbal information presented during demonstration impacts infants‘ subsequent action reproduction.
Overall, we expect cross-domain influences of actions on early word learning on the one hand, and influences of verbal information on action processing and reproduction on the other hand. The planned research will therefore shed light on cross-domain interactions in the early development of language and action.