Displaying 1 - 9 of 9
  • Kidd, E., Bigood, A., Donnelly, S., Durrant, S., Peter, M. S., & Rowland, C. F. (2020). Individual differences in first language acquisition and their theoretical implications. In C. F. Rowland, A. L. Theakston, B. Ambridge, & K. E. Twomey (Eds.), Current Perspectives on Child Language Acquisition: How children use their environment to learn (pp. 189-219). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi:10.1075/tilar.27.09kid.

    Abstract

    Much of Lieven’s pioneering work has helped move the study of individual differences to the centre of child language research. The goal of the present chapter is to illustrate how the study of individual differences provides crucial insights into the language acquisition process. In part one, we summarise some of the evidence showing how pervasive individual differences are across the whole of the language system; from gestures to morphosyntax. In part two, we describe three causal factors implicated in explaining individual differences, which, we argue, must be built into any theory of language acquisition (intrinsic differences in the neurocognitive learning mechanisms, the child’s communicative environment, and developmental cascades in which each new linguistic skill that the child has to acquire depends critically on the prior acquisition of foundational abilities). In part three, we present an example study on the role of the speed of linguistic processing on vocabulary development, which illustrates our approach to individual differences. The results show evidence of a changing relationship between lexical processing speed and vocabulary over developmental time, perhaps as a result of the changing nature of the structure of the lexicon. The study thus highlights the benefits of an individual differences approach in building, testing, and constraining theories of language acquisition.
  • Kidd, E., Arciuli, J., Christiansen, M. H., Isbilen, E. S., Revius, K., & Smithson, M. (2020). Measuring children’s auditory statistical learning via serial recall. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 200: 104964. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2020.104964.

    Abstract

    Statistical learning (SL) has been a prominent focus of research in developmental and adult populations, guided by the assumption that it is a fundamental component of learning underlying higher-order cognition. In developmental populations, however, there have been recent concerns regarding the degree to which many current tasks reliably measure SL, particularly in younger children. In the current article, we present the results of two studies that measured auditory statistical learning (ASL) of linguistic stimuli in children aged 5–8 years. Children listened to 6 min of continuous syllables comprising four trisyllabic pseudowords. Following the familiarization phase, children completed (a) a two-alternative forced-choice task and (b) a serial recall task in which they repeated either target sequences embedded during familiarization or foils, manipulated for sequence length. Results showed that, although both measures consistently revealed learning at the group level, the recall task better captured learning across the full range of abilities and was more reliable at the individual level. We conclude that, as has also been demonstrated in adults, the method holds promise for future studies of individual differences in ASL of linguistic stimuli.
  • Yang, W., Chan, A., Chang, F., & Kidd, E. (2020). Four-year-old Mandarin-speaking children’s online comprehension of relative clauses. Cognition, 196: 104103. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104103.

    Abstract

    A core question in language acquisition is whether children’s syntactic processing is experience-dependent and language-specific, or whether it is governed by abstract, universal syntactic machinery. We address this question by presenting corpus and on-line processing dat a from children learning Mandarin Chinese, a language that has been important in debates about the universality of parsing processes. The corpus data revealed that two different relative clause constructions in Mandarin are differentially used to modify syntactic subjects and objects. In the experiment, 4-year-old children’s eye-movements were recorded as they listened to the two RC construction types (e.g., Can you pick up the pig that pushed the sheep?). A permutation analysis showed that children’s ease of comprehension was closely aligned with the distributional frequencies, suggesting syntactic processing preferences are shaped by the input experience of these constructions.

    Additional information

    1-s2.0-S001002771930277X-mmc1.pdf
  • Cattani, A., Floccia, C., Kidd, E., Pettenati, P., Onofrio, D., & Volterra, V. (2019). Gestures and words in naming: Evidence from crosslinguistic and crosscultural comparison. Language Learning, 69(3), 709-746. doi:10.1111/lang.12346.

    Abstract

    We report on an analysis of spontaneous gesture production in 2‐year‐old children who come from three countries (Italy, United Kingdom, Australia) and who speak two languages (Italian, English), in an attempt to tease apart the influence of language and culture when comparing children from different cultural and linguistic environments. Eighty‐seven monolingual children aged 24–30 months completed an experimental task measuring their comprehension and production of nouns and predicates. The Italian children scored significantly higher than the other groups on all lexical measures. With regard to gestures, British children produced significantly fewer pointing and speech combinations compared to Italian and Australian children, who did not differ from each other. In contrast, Italian children produced significantly more representational gestures than the other two groups. We conclude that spoken language development is primarily influenced by the input language over gesture production, whereas the combination of cultural and language environments affects gesture production.
  • Quinn, S., & Kidd, E. (2019). Symbolic play promotes non‐verbal communicative exchange in infant–caregiver dyads. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 37(1), 33-50. doi:10.1111/bjdp.12251.

    Abstract

    Symbolic play has long been considered a fertile context for communicative development (Bruner, 1983, Child's talk: Learning to use language, Oxford University Press, Oxford; Vygotsky, 1962, Thought and language, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA; Vygotsky, 1978, Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA). In the current study, we examined caregiver–infant interaction during symbolic play and compared it to interaction in a comparable but non‐symbolic context (i.e., ‘functional’ play). Fifty‐four (N = 54) caregivers and their 18‐month‐old infants were observed engaging in 20 min of play (symbolic, functional). Play interactions were coded and compared across play conditions for joint attention (JA) and gesture use. Compared with functional play, symbolic play was characterized by greater frequency and duration of JA and greater gesture use, particularly the use of iconic gestures with an object in hand. The results suggest that symbolic play provides a rich context for the exchange and negotiation of meaning, and thus may contribute to the development of important skills underlying communicative development.
  • Kalashnikova, M., Escudero, P., & Kidd, E. (2018). The development of fast-mapping and novel word retention strategies in monolingual and bilingual infants. Developmental Science, 21(6): e12674. doi:10.1111/desc.12674.

    Abstract

    The mutual exclusivity (ME) assumption is proposed to facilitate early word learning by guiding infants to map novel words to novel referents. This study assessed the emergence and use of ME to both disambiguate and retain the meanings of novel words across development in 18‐month‐old monolingual and bilingual children (Experiment 1; N = 58), and in a sub‐group of these children again at 24 months of age (Experiment 2: N = 32). Both monolinguals and bilinguals employed ME to select the referent of a novel label to a similar extent at 18 and 24 months. At 18 months, there were also no differences in novel word retention between the two language‐background groups. However, at 24 months, only monolinguals showed the ability to retain these label–object mappings. These findings indicate that the development of the ME assumption as a reliable word‐learning strategy is shaped by children's individual language exposure and experience with language use.

    Files private

    Request files
  • Kidd, E., Junge, C., Spokes, T., Morrison, L., & Cutler, A. (2018). Individual differences in infant speech segmentation: Achieving the lexical shift. Infancy, 23(6), 770-794. doi:10.1111/infa.12256.

    Abstract

    We report a large‐scale electrophysiological study of infant speech segmentation, in which over 100 English‐acquiring 9‐month‐olds were exposed to unfamiliar bisyllabic words embedded in sentences (e.g., He saw a wild eagle up there), after which their brain responses to either the just‐familiarized word (eagle) or a control word (coral) were recorded. When initial exposure occurs in continuous speech, as here, past studies have reported that even somewhat older infants do not reliably recognize target words, but that successful segmentation varies across children. Here, we both confirm and further uncover the nature of this variation. The segmentation response systematically varied across individuals and was related to their vocabulary development. About one‐third of the group showed a left‐frontally located relative negativity in response to familiar versus control targets, which has previously been described as a mature response. Another third showed a similarly located positive‐going reaction (a previously described immature response), and the remaining third formed an intermediate grouping that was primarily characterized by an initial response delay. A fine‐grained group‐level analysis suggested that a developmental shift to a lexical mode of processing occurs toward the end of the first year, with variation across individual infants in the exact timing of this shift.

    Additional information

    supporting information
  • Kidd, E., Donnelly, S., & Christiansen, M. H. (2018). Individual differences in language acquisition and processing. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 22(2), 154-169. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2017.11.006.

    Abstract

    Humans differ in innumerable ways, with considerable variation observable at every level of description, from the molecular to the social. Traditionally, linguistic and psycholinguistic theory has downplayed the possibility of meaningful differences in language across individuals. However, it is becoming increasingly evident that there is significant variation among speakers at any age as well as across the lifespan. In this paper, we review recent research in psycholinguistics, and argue that a focus on individual differences provides a crucial source of evidence that bears strongly upon core issues in theories of the acquisition and processing of language; specifically, the role of experience in language acquisition, processing, and attainment, and the architecture of the language faculty.
  • Quinn, S., Donnelly, S., & Kidd, E. (2018). The relationship between symbolic play and language acquisition: A meta-analytic review. Developmental Review, 49, 121-135. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2018.05.005.

    Abstract

    A developmental relationship between symbolic play and language has been long proposed, going as far back as the writings of Piaget and Vygotsky. In the current paper we build on recent qualitative reviews of the literature by reporting the first quantitative analysis of the relationship. We conducted a three-level meta-analysis of past studies that have investigated the relationship between symbolic play and language acquisition. Thirty-five studies (N = 6848) met the criteria for inclusion. Overall, we observed a significant small-to-medium association between the two domains (r = .35). Several moderating variables were included in the analyses, including: (i) study design (longitudinal, concurrent), (ii) the manner in which language was measured (comprehension, production), and (iii) the age at which this relationship is measured. The effect was weakly moderated by these three variables, but overall the association was robust, suggesting that symbolic play and language are closely related in development.

    Additional information

    Quinn_Donnelly_Kidd_2018sup.docx

Share this page