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Open AccessArticle

Early Word Recognition and Later Language Skills

1,2,* and 3,4,5
Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 1, 3584 CS Utrecht, The Netherlands
University of Amsterdam, Weesperplein 4, 1018 XN Amsterdam, The Netherlands
MARCS Institute, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia
Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Wundtlaan 1, 6525 XD Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Donders Centre for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, Geert Grooteplein-Noord 21, 6525 EZ Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Brain Sci. 2014, 4(4), 532-559;
Received: 8 August 2014 / Revised: 10 September 2014 / Accepted: 8 October 2014 / Published: 24 October 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognition in Infants)
PDF [944 KB, uploaded 24 October 2014]


Recent behavioral and electrophysiological evidence has highlighted the long-term importance for language skills of an early ability to recognize words in continuous speech. We here present further tests of this long-term link in the form of follow-up studies conducted with two (separate) groups of infants who had earlier participated in speech segmentation tasks. Each study extends prior follow-up tests: Study 1 by using a novel follow-up measure that taps into online processing, Study 2 by assessing language performance relationships over a longer time span than previously tested. Results of Study 1 show that brain correlates of speech segmentation ability at 10 months are positively related to 16-month-olds’ target fixations in a looking-while-listening task. Results of Study 2 show that infant speech segmentation ability no longer directly predicts language profiles at the age of five. However, a meta-analysis across our results and those of similar studies (Study 3) reveals that age at follow-up does not moderate effect size. Together, the results suggest that infants’ ability to recognize words in speech certainly benefits early vocabulary development; further observed relationships of later language skills to early word recognition may be consequent upon this vocabulary size effect. View Full-Text
Keywords: speech segmentation; word recognition; individual differences; longitudinal speech segmentation; word recognition; individual differences; longitudinal

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Junge, C.; Cutler, A. Early Word Recognition and Later Language Skills. Brain Sci. 2014, 4, 532-559.

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