Words help babies learn concepts

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Chapter 5 endnote 31, from How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:

Words encourage infants to form goal-based concepts by inspiring them to represent things as equivalent.

Many creative experiments show how words encourage infants and young children to form goal-based concepts. In a typical study, an experimenter shows an object to two groups of infants. In one group, the experimenter intentionally calls the object by a made-up name such as “blork,” while the second group hears no name. The object is then revealed to rattle when you shake it. All the babies are then permitted to explore the object along with other objects, some of which also rattle. When the babies form a concept of rattling objects, there is a significant difference between the two groups. To babies in the first group who heard the name “blork,” rattling objects form a concept regardless of their physical appearance. To babies in the second group, rattling objects form a concept only if they also look like the first object.[1][2]

See these other references as well.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

Notes on the Notes

  1. For a review, see Waxman, Sandra R., and Susan A. Gelman. 2010. “Different Kinds of Concepts and Different Kinds of Words: What Words Do for Human Cognition.” In The Making of Human Concepts, edited by Denis Mareschal, Paul C. Quinn, and Stephen E. G. Lea, 101–130. New York: Oxford University Press.
  2. Gelman, Susan A. 2009. “Learning from Others: Children’s Construction of Concepts.” Annual Review of Psychology 60: 115–140.
  3. Booth, Amy E, and Sandra Waxman. 2002. "Object Names and Object Functions Serve as Cues to Categories for Infants." Developmental Psychology 38 (6): 948-957.
  4. Gopnik, Alison, and David M Sobel. 2000. "Detecting Blickets: How Young Children Use Information About Novel Causal Powers in Categorization and Induction." Child Development 71 (5): 1205-1222.
  5. Graham, Susan A., Cari S. Kilbreath, and Andrea N. Welder. 2004. "Thirteen‐Month‐Olds Rely on Shared Labels and Shape Similarity for Inductive Inferences." Child Development 75 (2): 409-427.
  6. Nazzi, Thierry, and Alison Gopnik. 2001. "Linguistic and Cognitive Abilities in Infancy: When Does Language Become a Tool for Categorization?" Cognition 80 (3): B11-B20.
  7. Welder, Andrea N, and Susan A Graham. 2001. "The Influence of Shape Similarity and Shared Labels on Infants’ Inductive Inferences About Nonobvious Object Properties." Child Development 72(6): 1653-1673.
  8. Jaswal & Markham, 2007 [full reference to be provided]