Commited to better understanding your child
When toddlers start talking, their vocabulary increases very quickly usually between the age of 1 to 2. But little is known about their words are organised in their head. As adults our 50,000 words are stored as a gigantic network, very efficiently so that we can recognise them within a few hundreds of ms. Here we examine how toddlers' words are related to one another; for example would they automatically activate "dog" upon hearing "cat", as we do? We use an eye-tracker to answer this, so that children's eye movements towards images are analysed online as they hear pairs of related (dog/cat) or unrelated words (bus/cat).
On a different study we look at the spatial information processed in the brain of the infants. The adult brain has its area for processing different kind of spatial information. A metric distance is preferentially processed in the right hemisphere and the distance with a reference between two objects in the left hemisphere. Using an eye-tracker we are investigating if the same brain adult division is present in pre-verbal infants.
And in a new study we look at the children’s food! When hearing a novel word in a list of known foods names, do 18-22-month-old infants infer that this new word is also a food? We play infants familiar food names including the unfamiliar word “blicket”. When presented with a pictures of an unfamiliar food (e.g. a papaya) and an unfamiliar animal (e.g. an anteater), will infants attend longer to the food when asked to “look at the blicket”?