The first slow step: Differential effects of object and word-form familiarization on retention of fast-mapped words

Sarah C Kucker, Larissa K Samuelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research demonstrated that although twenty-four month-old infants do well on the initial pairing of a novel word and novel object in fast-mapping tasks, they are unable to retain the mapping after a five-minute delay. The current study examines the role of familiarity with the objects and words on infants' ability to bridge between the initial fast mapping of a name and object, and later retention in the service of slow mapping. Twenty-four-month-old infants were familiarized with either novel objects or novel names prior to the referent selection portion of a fast-mapping task. When familiarized with the novel objects, infants retained the novel mapping after a delay, but not when familiarized with the novel words. This suggests familiarity with the object versus the word form leads to differential encoding of the name-object link. We discuss the implications of this finding for subsequent slow mapping.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-323
Number of pages29
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012

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