ERIC Number: ED136923
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Semantic Comprehension of the Action-Role Relationship in Early-Linguistic Infants.
Fritz, Janet J.; Suci, George J.
This study attempted to determine: (1) whether lower-order units (agent or agent-action) within the agent-action-recipient relationship exist in any functional way in the 1-word infant's comprehension of speech; and (2) whether the use of repetition and/or reduced length (common modifications in adult-to-infant speech) used to focus on these lower-order semantic units, facilitates comprehension of the match between a visual event and its verbal description. Sixteen infants (16-20 months old) in the 1-word stage were matched by age, sex, and linguistic level into two groups: those who comprehended, and those who did not comprehend, linguistic descriptions of the agent-action-recipient relationship. Subjects were shown narrated films depicting action-role changes. Each subject was shown the baseline condition which determined comprehension status, and two of four experimental conditions in which the narration was an interaction between one speech modification (repetition and reduced length) and a semantic focus (agent or agent action). A habituation paradigm was used in which correct narrative descriptions of the events were presented until habituation, at which point the narrations were switched to incorrectly describe the role relation being depicited. Dishabituation (heart rate deceleration and visual fixation) at the change to incorrect narrations was viewed as evidence of semantic comprehension. A 2x2x2 analysis of variance with repeated measures showed a main effect for the comprehension status variable. Significant 2-way interactions were found, one between semantic focus and comprehension status and another between speech modification and comprehension status. (Author/SB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Child Health and Human Development (NIH), Bethesda, MD.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (New Orleans, Louisiana, March 17-20, 1977)