Neural Correlates of Interactive Word Learning Between Preschool-Aged Children and Caregivers

Mosteller, Sara (2020) Neural Correlates of Interactive Word Learning Between Preschool-Aged Children and Caregivers. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Combined processing between caregivers and children may facilitate word learning during the preschool years, reflecting successful transfer of representations between adults and children when speaking or encoding labels. This thesis investigated the neural correlates of early word learning during caregiver-child interactions. Caregivers taught their 32- and 54-month-old children the names of eight new objects within a simpler task in which children were taught three object names, and a more complex task in which children were taught five object names. Children’s comprehension was later tested by an experimenter who presented them with pairs of objects and asked the child to select each by name. The caregiver’s learning was assessed in a word production test. Functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) data was obtained from both the caregiver and child during these tasks. The first empirical chapter (Chapter 2) describes the methods development and reports a piloting study. Three sets of analyses on these data are then reported. In the second empirical chapter (Chapter 3), neural responses to the differing naming events were examined for both the caregiver and child. For children, naming of learned words was different to naming of words not learned within the right temporal cortex, indicating differences in social and language related processing. Further, caregivers’ neural responses differed based on their child’s learning within the left parietal cortex. The second set of analyses revealed that distinctiveness of object locations during the interactions predicted which words children learned. The third set of analyses, reported within the third empirical chapter (Chapter 4), investigated whether neural coherence was greater as caregivers and children directly interacted during word learning, compared with caregivers and children who were also teaching and learning words but who were not interacting with each other. After statistically correcting for multiple comparisons, no differences in coherence were found between pairs of interacting caregivers and children, and scrambled pairings of caregivers and children. Technical limitations of the research are discussed, along with implications for broader connections to the literature and suggestions for future directions.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2021 14:05
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2021 11:12


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