We thank the infant participants and their parents. We are grateful to Krista Byers-Heinlein and Ramesh Thiruvengadaswamy for indispensable design help and statistical analysis discussions. Funding was provided by the McDonnell Foundation (412783-001G) to Richard N. Aslin and Janet F. Werker; by the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (81103) to Janet F. Werker; and by the National Science Foundation (0642632) to Roberta Michnick Golinkoff.
Perceptual Narrowing of Linguistic Sign Occurs in the 1st Year of Life
Article first published online: 25 JAN 2012
© 2012 The Authors Child Development © 2012 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc
Volume 83, Issue 2, pages 543–553, March/April 2012
How to Cite
Palmer, S. B., Fais, L., Golinkoff, R. M. and Werker, J. F. (2012), Perceptual Narrowing of Linguistic Sign Occurs in the 1st Year of Life. Child Development, 83: 543–553. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01715.x
- Issue published online: 14 MAR 2012
- Article first published online: 25 JAN 2012
Over their 1st year of life, infants’“universal” perception of the sounds of language narrows to encompass only those contrasts made in their native language (J. F. Werker & R. C. Tees, 1984). This research tested 40 infants in an eyetracking paradigm and showed that this pattern also holds for infants exposed to seen language—American Sign Language (ASL). Four-month-old, English-only, hearing infants discriminated an ASL handshape distinction, while 14-month-old hearing infants did not. Fourteen-month-old ASL-learning infants, however, did discriminate the handshape distinction, suggesting that, as in heard language, exposure to seen language is required for maintenance of visual language discrimination. Perceptual narrowing appears to be a ubiquitous learning mechanism that contributes to language acquisition.