BREAKTHROUGHS OF ANALOGICAL LEARNING: HOW LANGUAGE INFLUENCES AN INFANT'S ABILITY TO RECOGNIZE RELATIONS
Kaelani Demapan1, Yin-Juei Chang2, Susan Hespos2, Dedre Gentner2.
1Chaminade University of Honolulu, Honolulu, HI, 2Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.
We aim to uncover the role of language and its impact on analogical learning in infants. Learning by analogy is essential in order to obtain higher learning abilities. Recent studies have revealed that 7- and 9-month-old infants possess the ability to detect the most basic relation among a pair of same and different objects. This initial study showed 2 components of analogical learning: multiple exemplars enhance infants’ ability to learn relations, while individual object focus disrupts their ability to detect the relations. The current study investigated a third attribute of analogical learning: the influence of language. The participant sample involves 36 full-term infants between 7- and 9-months old. Results suggest when the individual objects are labeled, it hinders detection of the relation. However, labeling the relation does not have a facilitative effect at 7 and 9 months. It is possible that infants require experience with language to comprehend the relational labels. Future studies will investigate whether the relational labels work at older ages.