Publications by authors named "Gedeon O Deák"

23 Publications

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Adjacent and Non-Adjacent Word Contexts Both Predict Age of Acquisition of English Words: A Distributional Corpus Analysis of Child-Directed Speech.

Cogn Sci 2020 11;44(11):e12899

University of California, San Diego.

Children show a remarkable degree of consistency in learning some words earlier than others. What patterns of word usage predict variations among words in age of acquisition? We use distributional analysis of a naturalistic corpus of child-directed speech to create quantitative features representing natural variability in word contexts. We evaluate two sets of features: One set is generated from the distribution of words into frames defined by the two adjacent words. These features primarily encode syntactic aspects of word usage. The other set is generated from non-adjacent co-occurrences between words. These features encode complementary thematic aspects of word usage. Regression models using these distributional features to predict age of acquisition of 656 early-acquired English words indicate that both types of features improve predictions over simpler models based on frequency and appearance in salient or simple utterance contexts. Syntactic features were stronger predictors of children's production than comprehension, whereas thematic features were stronger predictors of comprehension. Overall, earlier acquisition was predicted by features representing frames that select for nouns and verbs, and by thematic content related to food and face-to-face play topics; later acquisition was predicted by features representing frames that select for pronouns and question words, and by content related to narratives and object play.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cogs.12899DOI Listing
November 2020

Maternal discourse continuity and infants' actions organize 12-month-olds' language exposure during object play.

Dev Sci 2019 05 11;22(3):e12770. Epub 2018 Dec 11.

Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California.

Infant language learning depends on the distribution of co-occurrences within language-between words and other words-and between language content and events in the world. Yet infant-directed speech is not limited to words that refer to perceivable objects and actions. Rather, caregivers' utterances contain a range of syntactic forms and expressions with diverse attentional, regulatory, social, and referential functions. We conducted a distributional analysis of linguistic content types at the utterance level, and demonstrated that a wide range of content types in maternal speech can be distinguished by their distribution in sequences of utterances and by their patterns of co-occurrence with infants' actions. We observed free-play sessions of 38 12-month-old infants and their mothers, annotated maternal utterances for 10 content types, and coded infants' gaze target and object handling. Results show that all content types tended to repeat in consecutive utterances, whereas preferred transitions between different content types reflected sequences from attention-capturing to directing and then descriptive utterances. Specific content types were associated with infants' engagement with objects (declaratives, descriptions, object names), with disengagement from objects (talk about attention, infant's name), and with infants' gaze at the mother (affirmations). We discuss how structured discourse might facilitate language acquisition by making speech input more predictable and/or by providing clues about high-level form-function mappings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/desc.12770DOI Listing
May 2019

Cultural variation in cognitive flexibility reveals diversity in the development of executive functions.

Sci Rep 2018 11 5;8(1):16326. Epub 2018 Nov 5.

Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, USA.

Cognitive flexibility, the adaptation of representations and responses to new task demands, improves dramatically in early childhood. It is unclear, however, whether flexibility is a coherent, unitary cognitive trait, or is an emergent dimension of task-specific performance that varies across populations with divergent experiences. Three- to 5-year-old English-speaking U.S. children and Tswana-speaking South African children completed two distinct language-processing cognitive flexibility tests: the FIM-Animates, a word-learning test, and the 3DCCS, a rule-switching test. U.S. and South African children did not differ in word-learning flexibility but showed similar age-related increases. In contrast, U.S. preschoolers showed an age-related increase in rule-switching flexibility but South African children did not. Verbal recall explained additional variance in both tests but did not modulate the interaction between population sample (i.e., country) and task. We hypothesize that rule-switching flexibility might be more dependent upon particular kinds of cultural experiences, whereas word-learning flexibility is less cross-culturally variable.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-34756-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6218534PMC
November 2018

Intensity of Caring About an Action's Side-Effect Mediates Attributions of Actor's Intentions.

Front Psychol 2018 3;9:1329. Epub 2018 Aug 3.

Department of Psychology, School of Education, Soochow University, Suzhou, China.

The side-effect effect (SEE) is the observation that people's intuition about whether an action was intentional depends on whether the outcome is good or bad. The asymmetric response, however, does not represent all subjects' judgments (Nichols and Ulatowski, 2007). It remains unexplored on subjective factors that can mediate the size of SEE. Thus, the current study investigated whether an individual related factor, specifically, whether adults' intensity of caring about an outcome of someone's actions influences their judgments about whether that person intended the outcome. We hypothesized that participants' judgments about fictional agents' responsibility for their action's side-effects would depend on how much they care about the domain of the side-effect. In two experiments, the intensity of caring affected participants' ascription of intention to an agent's negative unintended side-effect. The stronger ascription of intentionality to negative than positive side-effects (i.e., the SEE; Knobe, 2003) was found only in domains in which participants reported higher levels of caring. Also, the intensity of caring increased intentionality attributions reliably for negative side-effects but not for positive side-effects. These results suggest that caring about a domain mediates an asymmetrical ascription of intentionality to negative more than positive side-effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01329DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6085550PMC
August 2018

Sensorimotor Decoupling Contributes to Triadic Attention: A Longitudinal Investigation of Mother-Infant-Object Interactions.

Child Dev 2016 Mar-Apr;87(2):494-512. Epub 2015 Nov 27.

University of California, San Diego.

Previous developmental accounts of joint object activity identify a qualitative "shift" around 9-12 months. In a longitudinal study of 26 dyads, videos of joint object interactions at 4, 6, 9, and 12 months were coded for all targets of gaze and manual activity (at 10 Hz). At 12 months, infants distribute their sensorimotor modalities between objects handled by the parent and others controlled by the infant. Analyses reveal novel trajectories in distributed joint object activity across the 1st year. At 4 months, infants predominantly look at and manipulate a single object, typically held by their mothers. Between 6 and 9 months, infants increasingly decouple their visual and haptic modalities and distribute their attention between objects held by their mothers and by themselves. These previously unreported developments in the distribution of multimodal object activity might "bridge the gap" to coordinated joint activity between 6 and 12 months.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12464DOI Listing
January 2017

Disarming smiles: irrelevant happy faces slow post-error responses.

Cogn Process 2015 Nov 21;16(4):427-34. Epub 2015 Jul 21.

Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA.

When we make errors, we tend to experience a negative emotional state. In addition, if our errors are witnessed by other people, we might expect those observers to respond negatively. However, little is known about how implicit social feedback like facial expressions influences error processing. We explored this using the cognitive control phenomenon of post-error slowing: the tendency to slow the response immediately following an error. Adult participants performed a difficult perceptual task: estimating which of two lines (horizontal or vertical) was longer. The background showed an irrelevant distractor face with a happy, sad, or neutral expression. Participants slowed after errors only when the subsequent distractor face was happy, but not when the subsequent distractor was sad or neutral nor when a happy face followed a correct response. This suggests that information about others' affect, even non-interactive, task-irrelevant information, has performance- and valence-dependent effects on adaptive cognitive control.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10339-015-0664-2DOI Listing
November 2015

Cognitive flexibility in young children: General or task-specific capacity?

J Exp Child Psychol 2015 Oct 28;138:31-53. Epub 2015 May 28.

Department of Psychology and LaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research, York University, Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada.

Cognitive flexibility is the ability to adapt to changing tasks or problems. To test whether cognitive flexibility is a coherent cognitive capacity in young children, we tested 3- to 5-year-olds' performance on two forms of task switching, rule-based (Three Dimension Changes Card Sorting, 3DCCS) and inductive (Flexible Induction of Meaning-Animates and Objects, FIM-Ob and FIM-An), as well as tests of response speed, verbal working memory, inhibition, and reasoning. Results suggest that cognitive flexibility is not a globally coherent trait; only the two inductive word-meaning (FIM) tests showed high inter-test coherence. Task- and knowledge-specific factors also determine children's flexibility in a given test. Response speed, vocabulary size, and causal reasoning skills further predicted individual and age differences in flexibility, although they did not have the same predictive relation with all three flexibility tests.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2015.04.003DOI Listing
October 2015

Development of adaptive tool-use in early childhood: sensorimotor, social, and conceptual factors.

Authors:
Gedeon O Deák

Adv Child Dev Behav 2014 ;46:149-81

Tool-use is specialized in humans, and juvenile humans show much more prolific and prodigious tool-use than other juvenile primates. Nonhuman primates possess many of the basic motor and behavioral capacities needed for manual tool-use: perceptual-motor specialization, sociocultural practices and interactions, and abstract conceptualization of kinds of functions, both real and imagined. These traits jointly contribute to the human specialization for tool-using. In particular, from 2 to 5 years of age children develop: (i) more refined motor routines for interacting with a variety of objects, (ii) a deeper understanding and awareness of the cultural context of object-use practices, and (iii) a cognitive facility to represent potential dynamic human-object interactions. The last trait, which has received little attention in recent years, is defined as the ability to form abstract (i.e., generalizable to novel contexts) representations of kinds of functions, even with relatively little training or instruction. This trait might depend not only on extensive tool-using experience but also on developing cognitive abilities, including a variety of cognitive flexibility: specifically, imagistic memory for event sequences incorporating causal inferences about mechanical effects. Final speculations point to a possible network of neural systems that might contribute to the cognitive capacity that includes sensorimotor, sensory integration, and prefrontal cortical resources and interconnections.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-800285-8.00006-6DOI Listing
June 2014

Watch the hands: infants can learn to follow gaze by seeing adults manipulate objects.

Dev Sci 2014 Mar 4;17(2):270-81. Epub 2014 Jan 4.

Department of Cognitive Science, University of California at San Diego, USA.

Infants gradually learn to share attention, but it is unknown how they acquire skills such as gaze-following. Deák and Triesch (2006) suggest that gaze-following could be acquired if infants learn that adults' gaze direction is likely to be aligned with interesting sights. This hypothesis stipulates that adults tend to look at things that infants find interesting, and that infants could learn by noticing this tendency. We tested the plausibility of this hypothesis through video-based micro-behavioral analysis of naturalistic parent-infant play. The results revealed that 3- to 11-month-old infants strongly preferred watching caregivers handle objects. In addition, when caregivers looked away from their infant they tended to look at their own object-handling. Finally, when infants looked toward the caregiver while she was looking at her own hands, the infant's next eye movement was often toward the caregiver's object-handling. In this way infants receive adequate naturalistic input to learn associations between their parent's gaze direction and the locations of interesting sights.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/desc.12122DOI Listing
March 2014

Young children's flexible use of semantic cues to word meanings: converging evidence of individual and age differences.

J Child Lang 2014 May 7;41(3):511-42. Epub 2013 May 7.

Vanderbilt University.

A new test of children's flexible use of semantic cues for word learning extended previous results. In Experiment 1, three- to five-year-olds (N = 51) completed two tests of interpreting several novel words for the same stimulus arrays. Within-sentence phrasal cues implied different stimulus referent properties. Children's cue-using flexibility in the new Flexible Induction of Meanings [Words for Animates] test (FIM-An) was strongly correlated with an established test (Flexible Induction of Meanings [Words for Objects]; Deák, 2000). Individual children showed between-test consistency in using cues to flexibly assign words to different referent properties. There were large individual differences, as well as limited age differences, in the distribution of flexible and inflexible response patterns. The comprehensibility of specific cues, and perceptual salience of specific properties, explained much of the variance. Proportions of flexible and inflexible patterns shifted with age. Experiment 2 replicated these results in N=36 three- and four-year-olds, using a modified FIM-An with more distinctive cues.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S030500091200075XDOI Listing
May 2014

Young children's fast mapping and generalization of words, facts, and pictograms.

J Exp Child Psychol 2013 Jun 2;115(2):273-96. Epub 2013 Apr 2.

Department of Cognitive Science, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.

To test general and specific processes of symbol learning, 4- and 5-year-old children learned three kinds of abstract associates for novel objects: words, facts, and pictograms. To test fast mapping (i.e., one-trial learning) and subsequent learning, comprehension was tested after each of four exposures. Production was also tested, as was children's tendency to generalize learned items to new objects in the same taxon. To test for a bias toward mutually exclusive associations, children learned either one-to-one or many-to-many mappings. In Experiment 1, children learned words, facts (with or without incidental novel words), or pictograms. In Experiment 2, children learned words or pictograms. In both of these experiments, children learned words slower than facts and pictograms. Pictograms and facts were generalized more systematically than words, but only in Experiment 1. Children learned one-to-one mappings faster only in Experiment 2, when cognitive load was increased. In Experiment 3, 3- and 4-year-olds were taught facts (with novel words), words, and pictograms. Children learned facts faster than words; however, they remembered all items equally well a week later. The results suggest that word learning follows non-specialized memory and associative learning processes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2013.02.004DOI Listing
June 2013

Category label effects on Chinese children's inductive inferences: modulation by perceptual detail and category specificity.

J Exp Child Psychol 2012 Feb 25;111(2):230-45. Epub 2011 Sep 25.

Key Laboratory of Cognition and Personality of Ministry of Education, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China.

Inductive generalization of novel properties to same-category or similar-looking objects was studied in Chinese preschool children. The effects of category labels on generalizations were investigated by comparing basic-level labels, superordinate-level labels, and a control phrase applied to three kinds of stimulus materials: colored photographs (Experiment 1), realistic line drawings (Experiment 2), and cartoon-like line drawings (Experiment 3). No significant labeling effects were found for photos and realistic drawings, but there were significant effects for cartoon-like drawings. Children made mostly (>70%) category-based inferences about photographs whether or not labels were provided (Experiment 1). Children showed a bias toward category-based inferences about realistic drawings (Experiment 2) but did so only when labels were provided. Finally, children made mostly appearance-based generalizations for cartoon-like drawings (Experiment 3). However, labels (basic or superordinate level) reduced appearance-based responses. Labeling effects did not depend on having identical labels; however, identical superordinate labels were more effective than different basic-level labels for the least informative stimuli (i.e., cartoons). Thus, labels sometimes confirm the identity of ambiguous items. This evidence of labeling effects in Mandarin-speaking Chinese children extends previous findings beyond English-speaking children and shows that the effects are not narrowly culture and language specific.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2011.08.010DOI Listing
February 2012

Micro-analysis of infant looking in a naturalistic social setting: insights from biologically based models of attention.

Dev Sci 2011 Sep 26;14(5):1150-60. Epub 2011 Jul 26.

Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0515, USA.

A current theory of attention posits that several micro-indices of attentional vigilance are dependent on activation of the locus coeruleus, a brainstem nucleus that regulates cortical norepinephrine activity (Aston-Jones et al., 1999). This theory may account for many findings in the infant literature, while highlighting important new areas for research and theory on infant attention. We examined the visual behaviors of n = 16 infants (6-7 months) while they attended to multiple spatially distributed targets in a naturalistic environment. We coded four measures of attentional vigilance, adapted from studies of norepinergic modulation of animal attention: rate of fixations, duration of fixations, latency to reorientation, and target 'hits'. These measures showed a high degree of coherence in individual infants, in parallel with findings from animal studies. Results also suggest that less vigilant infants showed greater habituation to the trial structure and more attentiveness to less salient stimuli during periods of high attentional competition. This pattern of results is predicted by the Aston-Jones model of attention, but could not be explained by the standard information processing model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7687.2011.01066.xDOI Listing
September 2011

To Model or Not to Model? A Dialogue on the Role of Computational Modeling in Developmental Science.

Child Dev Perspect 2010 Aug;4(2):152-158

Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin - Madison.

All sciences use models of some variety to understand complex phenomena. In developmental science, however, modeling is mostly limited to linear, algebraic descriptions of behavioral data. Some researchers have suggested that complex mathematical models of developmental phenomena are a viable (even necessary) tool that provide fertile ground for developing and testing theory as well as for generating new hypotheses and predictions. This paper explores the concerns, attitudes, and historical trends that underlie the tension between two cultures: one in which computational simulations of behavior are an important complement to observation and experimentation, and another which emphasizes evidence from behavioral experiments and linear models enhanced by verbal descriptions. This tension is explored as a dialogue between three characters: Ed (Experimental Developmentalist), Mira (Modeling Inclusive Research Advocate), and Phil (Philosopher of Science).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1750-8606.2010.00134.xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3103214PMC
August 2010

This ought to be good: brain activity accompanying positive and negative expectations and outcomes.

Psychophysiology 2011 Oct 21;48(10):1412-9. Epub 2011 Apr 21.

Key Laboratory of Cognition and Personality (SWU), Ministry of Education, Chongqing, China.

The current study employed a modified gambling task, in which probabilistic cues were provided to elicit positive or negative expectations. Event-related potentials (ERPs) to "final outcome" and "probabilistic cues" were analyzed. Difference waves between the negative condition and the corresponding positive condition were examined. The results confirm that feedback related negativity (FRN) amplitude is modulated by the interaction of outcome valence and expectancy by showing larger FRN difference waves for unexpected than expected outcomes. More interestingly, the difference wave between ERPs elicited by positive and negative expectations showed a negative deflection, with a frontal midline source density around 280 ms after onset of the predictive cue. Negative expectations were associated with larger FRN amplitudes than positive expectations. This suggests that FRN is elicited by probabilistic cues to pending outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8986.2011.01205.xDOI Listing
October 2011

Driven from distraction: how infants respond to parents' attempts to elicit and re-direct their attention.

Infant Behav Dev 2008 Jan 9;31(1):34-50. Epub 2007 Aug 9.

Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, 9500 Gilman Dr., San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0515, USA.

This experiment examined how parents' verbal and non-verbal behavioral cues cause infants to shift and share attention within environments where many objects compete for infants' attention. Fifteen- and 21-month-old infants played with toys while their parent periodically shifted attention to a distal object within a larger array. Parents' attention-shifts were indicated by a change in direction of gaze, a pointing gesture, and/or verbalizations. Verbalizations were either attention-eliciting or attention-directing. In some trials parents covered their eyes to occlude line-of-gaze. Both ages seldom followed simple gaze shifts, but frequently followed gaze with-points or gaze-with-directing verbalizations. Attention-eliciting verbalizations increased infants' looks to the parent. Gaze occlusion reduced infants' responses to directing verbalizations. Responses to eliciting verbalizations increased with age. Infant receptive vocabulary did not predict attention-sharing, even when parents named objects (i.e., directing verbalizations). Implications for development of attention-sharing, language and understanding of visual attention are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.infbeh.2007.06.004DOI Listing
January 2008

Do children really confuse appearance and reality?

Authors:
Gedeon O Deák

Trends Cogn Sci 2006 Dec 31;10(12):546-50. Epub 2006 Oct 31.

Department of Cognitive Science, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0515, USA.

Our understanding of many mental, social and physical phenomena hinges on a general understanding that appearances can differ from reality. Yet young children sometimes seem unable to understand appearance-reality dissociations. In a standard test, children are shown a deceptive object and asked what it really is and what it looks like. Many preschool children give the same answer to both questions. This error has been attributed to children's inflexible conceptual representations or inflexibility in representing their own changing beliefs. However, evidence fails to support either hypothesis: new tests show that young children generally understand appearance-reality discrepancies as well as fantasy-reality distinctions. These tests instead implicate children's failure to understand the unfamiliar discourse format of the standard test. This misunderstanding might reveal a subtler difficulty in making logical inferences about questions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2006.09.012DOI Listing
December 2006

Choose and choose again: appearance-reality errors, pragmatics and logical ability.

Dev Sci 2006 May;9(3):323-33

Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego, 92093, USA.

In the Appearance/Reality (AR) task some 3- and 4-year-old children make perseverative errors: they choose the same word for the appearance and the function of a deceptive object. Are these errors specific to the AR task, or signs of a general question-answering problem? Preschoolers completed five tasks: AR; simple successive forced-choice question pairs (QP); flexible naming of objects (FN); working memory (WM) span; and indeterminacy detection (ID). AR errors correlated with QP errors. Insensitivity to indeterminacy predicted perseveration in both tasks. Neither WM span nor flexible naming predicted other measures. Age predicted sensitivity to indeterminacy. These findings suggest that AR tests measure a pragmatic understanding; specifically, different questions about a topic usually call for different answers. This understanding is related to the ability to detect indeterminacy of each question in a series. AR errors are unrelated to the ability to represent an object as belonging to multiple categories, to working memory span, or to inhibiting previously activated words.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7687.2006.00496.xDOI Listing
May 2006

Gaze following: why (not) learn it?

Dev Sci 2006 Mar;9(2):125-47

Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA.

We propose a computational model of the emergence of gaze following skills in infant-caregiver interactions. The model is based on the idea that infants learn that monitoring their caregiver's direction of gaze allows them to predict the locations of interesting objects or events in their environment (Moore & Corkum, 1994). Elaborating on this theory, we demonstrate that a specific Basic Set of structures and mechanisms is sufficient for gaze following to emerge. This Basic Set includes the infant's perceptual skills and preferences, habituation and reward-driven learning, and a structured social environment featuring a caregiver who tends to look at things the infant will find interesting. We review evidence that all elements of the Basic Set are established well before the relevant gaze following skills emerge. We evaluate the model in a series of simulations and show that it can account for typical development. We also demonstrate that plausible alterations of model parameters, motivated by findings on two different developmental disorders - autism and Williams syndrome - produce delays or deficits in the emergence of gaze following. The model makes a number of testable predictions. In addition, it opens a new perspective for theorizing about cross-species differences in gaze following.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7687.2006.00470.xDOI Listing
March 2006

Is perseveration caused by inhibition failure? Evidence from preschool children's inferences about word meanings.

J Exp Child Psychol 2003 Nov;86(3):194-222

Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037-0515, USA.

Four studies examined the relation between children's cognitive inhibition and flexibility in a lexical inference task. Children's linguistic flexibility was assessed by the Flexible Induction of Meaning (FIM) test (Deák, 2000a), which requires that children shift inferences about the meanings of several words for novel objects. In Study 1, 54 3-year-olds either were trained between blocks of problems, for a delay of 3 min, or received no training or delay. Training delays did not influence perseveration. In Study 2 (N=72 3- and 4-year-olds') novel word problems were grouped either to increase the frequency of cue switches (i.e., reduce response "set") or minimize the interval between problems about the same objects. Again, no effect was found. In Study 3, 48 3- and 4-year-olds completed 6 preliminary trials; in a high interference group these trials generated a response set to be inhibited upon the first switch to a new cue context. This group did not perseverate more than a control group. There was no association between FIM perseveration and a Stroop-like test of verbal inhibition though both were marginally related to receptive vocabulary. In study 4 (48 3- and 4-year-olds), FIM was again unrelated to Stroop performance, but was related to the ability to tell whether a situation or problem is indeterminate. Thus, flexibility across semantic inferences is not influenced by timing, order, and number of pre-switch problems and is not predicted by individual differences in a test of verbal inhibition. However previously reported age and individual differences in flexible induction of word meanings are robust and related to vocabulary and logical ability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2003.08.001DOI Listing
November 2003

The development of cognitive flexibility and language abilities.

Authors:
Gedeon O Deák

Adv Child Dev Behav 2003 ;31:271-327

Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92093-0515, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0065-2407(03)31007-9DOI Listing
November 2003

Children's perseverative appearance-reality errors are related to emerging language skills.

Child Dev 2003 May-Jun;74(3):944-64

Department of Cognitive Science, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0515, USA.

Two experiments explored the communicative bases of preschoolers' object appearance-reality (AR) errors. In Experiment 1, 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds (N = 36) completed the AR test (with high- and low-deceptive objects), a control test with the same discourse structure but nondeceptive stimuli, and stimulus naming and memory tests. AR performance correlated positively with control (discourse) and naming test performance. Object deceptiveness had little effect. In Experiment 2, 3- and 4-year-olds (N = 64) completed AR tests that experimentally varied question phrasing and use of exemplar objects. Children also completed memory, vocabulary, and control tests (of verbal perseveration). AR performance variance was predicted by a composite perseveration score from three non-AR tasks, vocabulary, and exemplars. The results indicate that the discourse structure of the AR test elicits a perseverative tendency that is mediated by children's verbal knowledge.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00578DOI Listing
October 2003

Matching and naming objects by shape or function: age and context effects in preschool children.

Dev Psychol 2002 Jul;38(4):503-18

Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0515, USA.

Three experiments tested preschoolers' use of abstract principles to classify and label objects by shape or function. Three- and 4-year-olds were instructed to match objects by shape or function. Four-year-olds readily adopted either rule, but 3-year-olds followed only the shape rule. Without a rule, 4-year-olds tended to match by shape unless object function was shown during matching (Experiment 2). Three-year-olds' ability to use a function rule was tested in several conditions (re-presenting functions; reminders to "use the rule"; repeating rule on every trial). None induced consistent function matching (Experiment 3). Supplemental memory and verbal tasks showed that 3-year-olds have trouble using function as an abstract basis of comparison. Naming data, however, show that preschoolers are learning that object labels are based on function. The results show preschoolers' growing flexibility in adopting abstract generalization rules and growing knowledge of conventions for extending words.
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July 2002