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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Semantic priming supports infants’ ability to represent and name unseen objects


Human language permits us to call to mind objects, events, and ideas that we cannot witness directly. This capacity requires that one links words not only to their referents, but to mental representations of those referents. Together with the recognition that words are used intentionally for communication, this link constitutes ‘verbal reference.’ Although the development of verbal reference is a pivotal achievement, questions concerning its origins remain. To address this gap, we investigate infants’ ability to establish a representation of an object that is hidden from view based on language input and to learn its name.

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