Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 February 2009
A new method to assess language comprehension in infants and young children is introduced in three experiments which test separately for the comprehension of nouns, verbs, and word order. This method requires a minimum of motor movement, no speech production, and relies on the differential visual fixation of two simultaneously presented video events accompanied by a single linguistic stimulus. The linguistic stimulus matches only one of the video events. In all three experiments patterns of visual fixation favour the screen which matches the linguistic stimulus. This new method may provide insight into the child's emerging linguistic capabilities and help resolve longstanding controversies concerning language production versus language comprehension.
This research was supported by NICHHD Grant No. Roi-HD-15964 to the first two authors and by a University of Delaware Biomedical Research Grant to R. M. Golinkoff. From its inception this research has been a completely collaborative effort on the part of the first two authors. We thank Deborah Sardo, Lori Soden and Mary Beth Meyers, for their able assistance in the operation of our laboratory and the Mid-Atlantic Language Union (MLU) for their insightful comments on a draft of the manuscript. These data were presented at the International Conference on Infant Studies and at the Boston Child Language Meeting.
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