There is evidence that basic information processing abilities in infants and toddlers are related to competencies in nonlinguistic, linguistic, and social-cognitive domains. For example, visual recognition memory in infancy has been found to predict later executive functions (Rose, Feldman & Jankowski, 2012) and vocabulary size (Rose, Feldman & Jankowski, 2009). These findings are important when addressing the question of to what extent the development in certain domains is domain-specific or driven by domain-general abilities.
As these general cognitive functions are challenging to measure in young infants and as there are no standardized assessments available, the present project aims to develop a Research-Unit-wide used battery of tasks that can be conducted from age 6-36 months to measure: a) Recognition memory, b) Attention, c) Processing speed and d) Executive function. The tasks (a-c) will be adapted from a battery described by Rose, Feldman and Jankowski (2004) and are supplemented by a task measuring executive function (d). All tasks involve measurements of children’s looking behavior at different kinds of visual displays and will be presented with an eyetracker.
Single projects within the research unit will then investigate the impact of these general cognitive functions on the development of specific (linguistic and non-linguistic) abilities (e.g., segmentation in speech perception and action, processing of hierarchical structures and implicit and explicit Theory of Mind) by treating them as correlational variable in cross-sectional designs or as predictor variables in longitudinal designs. The presentation will give a detailed overview of the developed task battery and the specific hypotheses tested in the Research-Unit projects.