Description: This study examines the structure of action-verb co-occurrences in the early communicative environment to explore the origins of action verb meaning. We made naturalistic observations, examining whether infants from 1 to 3 years of age and their mothers associate manipulative verbs with ongoing manual activity in their flow of daily interactions (35,149 instances). We found that, above chance, either the mother (from 18 months on) or the child (from 27 months on) produced manipulative verbs while performing their corresponding actions, and the mother also produced these verbs when referring to the corresponding child’s actions (from 33 months on). By contrast, other possible contingencies such as the child-mother co-occurrence of actions or the co-occurrence of manipulative verbs were negative, suggesting a turn-taking pattern. Action-verb co-occurrences were highly synchronic (within 2.9 seconds temporal frames as average), they showed high referential accuracy (most action verbs match the ongoing actions), distinctiveness (only actions co-occur with manipulative verbs but not with postural and mental verbs), and redundancy (mother and child tend to produce the same action verbs matched with the actions). These features seem to be optimal to feed in a Hebbian learning mechanism connecting linguistic and motor regions in the brain, supporting the embodied origin of verb meaning. 

Researchers: María José Rodrigo, Mercedes Muñetón & Manuel de Vega

Data Base:

Action and verbs database

Action-verbs coincidences database

Con el Apoyo de

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