'I Spy' Used to Show Spoken Language Helps Direct Children's Eyes
[Source: Science Daily]
Children spot objects more quickly when prompted by words than if they are only prompted by images, cognitive scientists have demonstrated. Spoken language taps into children’s cognitive system, enhancing their ability to learn and to navigate cluttered environments. As such the study opens up new avenues for research into the way language might shape the course of developmental disabilities such as ADHD, difficulties with school, and other attention-related problems.
In a new study, Indiana University cognitive scientists Catarina Vales and Linda Smith demonstrate that children spot objects more quickly when prompted by words than if they are only prompted by images.
In the experiment, children played a series of “I spy” games, widely used to study attention and memory in adults. Asked to look for one image in a crowded scene on a computer screen, the children were shown a picture of the object they needed to find — a bed, for example, hidden in a group of couches.
“If the name of the target object was also said, the children were much faster at finding it and less distracted by the other objects in the scene,” said Vales, a graduate student in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.
“What we’ve shown is that in 3-year-old children, words activate memories that then rapidly deploy attention and lead children to find the relevant object in a cluttered array,” said Smith, Chancellor’s Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. “Words call up an idea that is more robust than an image and to which we more rapidly respond. Words have a way of calling up what you know that filters the environment for you.”
The study, she said , “is the first clear demonstration of the impact of words on the way children navigate the visual world and is a first step toward understanding the way language influences visual attention, raising new testable hypotheses about the process.”
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