Novel names extend for how long preschool children sample visual information

Paulo F. Carvalho, Catarina Vales, Caitlin M. Fausey, Linda B. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Known words can guide visual attention, affecting how information is sampled. How do novel words, those that do not provide any top-down information, affect preschoolers’ visual sampling in a conceptual task? We proposed that novel names can also change visual sampling by influencing how long children look. We investigated this possibility by analyzing how children sample visual information when they hear a sentence with a novel name versus without a novel name. Children completed a match-to-sample task while their moment-to-moment eye movements were recorded using eye-tracking technology. Our analyses were designed to provide specific information on the properties of visual sampling that novel names may change. Overall, we found that novel words prolonged the duration of each sampling event but did not affect sampling allocation (which objects children looked at) or sampling organization (how children transitioned from one object to the next). These results demonstrate that novel words change one important dynamic property of gaze: Novel words can entrain the cognitive system toward longer periods of sustained attention early in development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Early online date26 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

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