• Issue
    Volume 18, Issue 1
    i-ii, 1-182
    January 2015


Free Access

Issue Information

  • Pages: i-ii
  • First Published: 28 December 2014


Development and the epigenome: the ‘synapse’ of gene–environment interplay

  • Pages: 1-23
  • First Published: 28 December 2014
Description unavailable

Epigenetic marks—chromatin structural modifications that regulate gene expression without changing DNA sequences—may offer a strong, parsimonious account for the convergence of genetic and contextual variation in the genesis of adaptive and maladaptive development. DNA methylation and histone acetylation, for example, can change the ‘loose’ or ‘tight’ conformation of chromatin, which is arrayed within chromosomes like beads on a string.


Open Access

Visual motherese? Signal-to-noise ratios in toddler-directed television

  • Pages: 24-37
  • First Published: 07 April 2014
Description unavailable

Younger brains are noisier information processing systems; this means that information for younger individuals has to allow clearer differentiation between those aspects that are required for the processing task in hand (the ‘signal’) and those that are not (the ‘noise’). We compared toddler-directed and adult-directed TV programmes (TotTV/ATV). We examined how low-level visual features (that previous research has suggested influence gaze allocation) relate to semantic information, namely the location of the character speaking in each frame.

Young children ‘solve for x’ using the Approximate Number System

  • Pages: 38-49
  • First Published: 03 March 2014
Description unavailable

The Approximate Number System (ANS) supports basic arithmetic computation in early childhood, but it is unclear whether the ANS also supports the more complex computations introduced later in formal education. ‘Solving for x’ in addend-unknown problems is notoriously difficult for children, who often struggle with these types of problems well into high school. Here we asked whether 4–6-year-old children could solve for an unknown addend using the ANS.

Open Access

Training-induced recovery of low-level vision followed by mid-level perceptual improvements in developmental object and face agnosia

  • Pages: 50-64
  • First Published: 04 April 2014
Description unavailable

Abnormal visual inputs during development can impair various visual functions, and it is unclear whether these can be corrected during adulthood. Here, visual training at the age of 20 significantly improved LG's underdeveloped basic and mid-level visual functions with long-term persistence in trained and also untrained visual functions.

Words, shape, visual search and visual working memory in 3-year-old children

  • Pages: 65-79
  • First Published: 11 April 2014
Description unavailable

Do words cue children's visual attention, and if so, what are the relevant mechanisms? Across four experiments, 3-year-old children were tested in visual search tasks in which targets were cued with only a visual preview versus a visual preview and a spoken name. The experiments were designed to determine whether labels facilitated search times and to examine one route through which labels could have their effect: By influencing the visual working memory representation of the target. The results show that labels modulate the encoding of the target in working memory, which in turn influences the processing of visual information.

Surprise! Infants consider possible bases of generalization for a single input example

  • Pages: 80-89
  • First Published: 07 April 2014
Description unavailable

Infants have been shown to generalize from a small number of input examples. However, existing studies allow two possible means of generalization. One is via a process of noting similarities shared by several examples. Alternatively, generalization may reflect an implicit desire to explain the input. The latter view suggests that generalization might occur when even a single input example is surprising, given the learner's current model of the domain.

Electrophysiological evidence of heterogeneity in visual statistical learning in young children with ASD

  • Pages: 90-105
  • First Published: 13 May 2014
Description unavailable

We investigated the electrophysiological correlates of visual statistical learning in young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using an event-related potential shape learning paradigm, and we examined the relation between visual statistical learning and cognitive function. Compared to typically developing (TD) controls, the ASD group as a whole showed reduced evidence of learning as defined by N1 (early visual discrimination) and P300 (attention to novelty) components. Upon further analysis, in the ASD group there was a positive correlation between N1 amplitude difference and non-verbal IQ, and a positive correlation between P300 amplitude difference and adaptive social function. Children with ASD and a high non-verbal IQ and high adaptive social function, therefore, demonstrated a distinctive pattern of learning. This is the first study to identify electrophysiological markers of visual statistical learning in children with ASD, and the first to demonstrate heterogeneity in statistical learning in ASD that maps onto non-verbal cognition and adaptive social function.

Neurocognitive mechanisms of learning to read: print tuning in beginning readers related to word-reading fluency and semantics but not phonology

  • Pages: 106-118
  • First Published: 26 May 2014
Description unavailable

This study demonstrates the presence of print tuning in the first year of reading acquisition and its development at the individual level. Moreover, individual differences in print tuning are not only related to word-reading fluency, but also to semantic knowledge.

Tracing children's vocabulary development from preschool through the school-age years: an 8-year longitudinal study

  • Pages: 119-131
  • First Published: 24 June 2014
Description unavailable

“In this 8-year longitudinal study, we traced the vocabulary growth of Chinese children, explored potential precursors of vocabulary knowledge, and investigated how vocabulary growth predicted future reading skills. Three subgroups of lexical growth were classified, namely high-high (with a large initial vocabulary size and a fast growth rate), low-high (with a small initial vocabulary size and a fast growth rate) and low-low (with a small initial vocabulary size and a slow growth rate) groups. Low-high and low-low groups were distinguishable mostly through phonological skills, morphological skills and other reading-related cognitive skills. Childhood vocabulary development (using intercept and slope) explained subsequent reading skills. Findings suggest that language-related and reading-related cognitive skills differ among groups with different developmental trajectories of vocabulary, and the initial size and growth rate of vocabulary may be two predictors for later reading development.”

Knowledge cannot explain the developmental growth of working memory capacity

  • Pages: 132-145
  • First Published: 18 June 2014
Description unavailable

The article addresses the question of whether the improvement in working memory capacity across the elementary school years can be explained by the increase in knowledge. The figure shows a score based on mean items in working memory in a recognition test, normalized across all four age groups. These z scores were nearly identical for English letters that embody prior knowledge and for unfamiliar characters, disproving the view that working memory development is based completely on knowledge development. The results exclude a subset of young children who did not remember at least one English letter per trial, showing that knowledge also is important.


Open Access

Sentence repetition is a measure of children's language skills rather than working memory limitations

  • Pages: 146-154
  • First Published: 01 July 2014
Description unavailable

Sentence repetition tasks are widely used in diagnosis and assessment of children with language impairments, but the underlying abilities measured are poorly understood, and how performance on this test should be interpreted is unclear. By investigating the longitudinal relationship between sentence repetition and other measures of language abilities in children aged 4-6 years, our findings support the view that sentence repetition is best seen as a reflection of an underlying unitary language construct, rather than as a measure of a separate construct with a specific role in language processing.


Why the body comes first: effects of experimenter touch on infants' word finding

  • Pages: 155-164
  • First Published: 16 April 2014
Description unavailable

The lexicon of 6-month-olds is comprised of names and body part words. Unlike names, body part words do not often occur in isolation in the input. This presents a puzzle: How have infants been able to pull out these words from the continuous stream of speech at such a young age? We hypothesize that caregivers' interactions directed at and on the infant's body may be at the root of their early acquisition of body part words.


Cross-cultural investigation into cognitive underpinnings of individual differences in early arithmetic

  • Pages: 165-174
  • First Published: 27 June 2014
Description unavailable

The present study assessed 626 5-7-year-old children in the UK, China, Russia, and Kyrgyzstan on a cognitive test battery measuring: (1) general skills; (2) non-symbolic number sense; (3) symbolic number understanding; (4) simple arithmetic - operating with numbers; and (5) familiarity with numbers. Although most inter-population differences were small, 13% of the variance in arithmetic skills could be explained by the sample, replicating the pattern, previously found with older children in PISA. Despite average differences, the same cognitive skills were related to early arithmetic in these diverse populations.

Causal learning from probabilistic events in 24-month-olds: an action measure

  • Pages: 175-182
  • First Published: 16 July 2014
Description unavailable

Using a two-choice action measure, we tested whether 24-month-olds can use observed probabilistic information to solve a causal learning problem in the absence of causal linguistic descriptions or spatial contact. Toddlers first observed an adult produce a probabilistic pattern of causal evidence and were then given an opportunity to design their own intervention. At test, toddlers used the observed probabilistic causal information to generate their own intervention to bring about the same effect on the world.