Nicole Altvater-Mackensen and Nivedita Mani (2015)

Phonological features mediate object-label retrieval and word recognition in the visual world paradigm

In: Attention and Vision in Language Processing, ed. by Mishra, Ramesh Kumar and Srinivasan, Narayanan and Huettig, Falk. Springer India, chap. 2, pp. 23-38. (ISBN: 978-81-322-2442-6).

While there are numerous studies that investigate the amount of phonological detail associated with toddlers’ lexical representations of words and their sensitivity to mispronunciations of these words, research has only recently begun to address the mechanisms guiding the use of this detail during word recognition. The current chapter reviews the literature on experiments using the visual world paradigm to assess infant word recognition, in particular, the amount of attention infants pay to phonological detail in word recognition. We further present data from a novel study using a visual priming paradigm to assess the extent to which toddlers retrieve sub-phonemic detail during lexical access. The results suggest that both the retrieval of an object’s label and toddlers’ recognition of a word involve activation of not only phonemic but also sub-segmental information associated with the lexical representation of this word. We therefore conclude that lexical access in toddlers is mediated by sub-phonemic information.