Susan C Bobb and Nivedita Mani (2013)

Categorizing with gender: Does implicit grammatical gender affect semantic processing in 24-month-old toddlers?

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 115(2):297-308.

The current study investigated the interaction of implicit grammatical gender and semantic category knowledge during object identification. German-learning toddlers (24-month-olds) were presented with picture pairs and heard a noun (without a preceding article) labeling one of the pictures. Labels for target and distracter images either matched or mismatched in grammatical gender and either matched or mismatched in semantic category. When target and distracter overlapped in both semantic and gender information, target recognition was impaired compared with when target and distracter overlapped on only one dimension. Results suggest that by 24 months of age, German-learning toddlers are already forming not only semantic but also grammatical gender categories and that these sources of information are activated, and interact, during object identification.

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