The First Slow Step: Differential Effects of Object and Word-Form Familiarization on Retention of Fast-Mapped Words
Recent research demonstrated that although 24-month-old infants do well on the initial pairing of a novel word and novel object in fast-mapping tasks, they are unable to retain the mapping after a 5min delay. The current study examines the role of familiarity with the objects and words on infants’ ability to bridge between the initial fast mapping of a name and object, and later retention in the service of slow mapping. Twenty-four-month-old infants were familiarized with either novel objects or novel names prior to the referent selection portion of a fast-mapping task. When familiarized with the novel objects, infants retained the novel mapping after a delay, but not when familiarized with the novel words. This suggests familiarity with the object versus the word form leads to differential encoding of the name-object link. We discuss the implications of this finding for subsequent slow mapping. Copyright © International Society on Infant Studies (ISIS).