Language and Cognition Is Relatively Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Initiating joint attention related to activity in the frontal-cortical system, especially the left hemisphere and responding to joint attention to the parietal lobes. Heimann et al. (2006) found that that deferred imitation and joint attention both influence the development of language and communication skills in infancy. Deferred imitation at nine months was the strongest of the predictors of nonverbal communication at 14 months, but the predictive power increased significantly in situations when deferred imitation and joint attention were used together.

Recently studies have been conducted with other areas of cognitive behavior. For example, de Villiers (2007) has been looking at the association of language and what he calls Theory of Mind. Theory of Mind refers to the folk psychological theory humans use to predict and explain others' behavior on the basis of their internal workings: feelings, intentions, desires, attitudes, beliefs, knowledge and point-of-view. In other words, people have to create a mental state inside a person to understand the disjunction between an external stimulus and a response. In a very simple example, someone is seen doing something clearly foolish, such as using mouthwash to wash one's hair. Being able to understand false beliefs is the result of a lengthy developmental path that runs from early infancy until usually to around 4 or 5 years old.

De Villiers (2007) says that appreciation of the mental states of others may actually begin in infancy, such as the acute attention given to the human voice and face newborns may reflect an innate understanding that these are the keys to reading emotion and intent. In experimental tasks, evidence is seen that infants read the actions of meaningful animate objects, such as human hands, as being intentional or purposive to a specific object,. Tomasello and Haberl (2003) studied 12- and 18-month-old infants playing who playing with an adult who said, "Oh, wow! That's so cool! Can you give it to me?" while gesturing in the general direction of three objects, one that was new to the adult but not the child, and two that had been played with previously by the child and adult together.

The 18-month-olds reliably gave the adult the object that was new for the adult but not the child, suggesting that they had observed and remembered the adult's previous experience. At the very least, they remembered their own experience of playing with the toy and the adult combination and then judged what was new. Two-year-olds can also 'hide" an object not by moving something in front of it but rather putting something in front of it. (Doherty, 2006) Studies so far suggests a stage at the beginning of the process where information from.

Theory of Mind, in the most basic sense of sensitivity to people's intentions, opens up ways to fix the reference of early words. It seems probable that the attention to people and their agency is very early developing, if not innate, in typically developing children, preceding language and making it possible

Being able to interpret the actions and minds of other people is one of the greatest challenges for infants and young children when they are developing Infant understanding of those actions that are goal-directed have been recognized as a crucial precondition for understanding intentional actions and attributing mental states to others. This attribution of mental states to other individuals is definitely a useful ability, through which human behavior gains meaning and becomes predictable and that allows coordinated social interactions and communication between people. How this ability and its precursors are developed in infancy has become a widely studied field over the past few years (Hofer et. al, 2007).

When a child turns one, he or she appreciates the goal-directedness of an action and can begin to infer the unseen goal of an incomplete action in their study, Hofer et,. al (2007) first presented six-months-old infants with a visual familiarization paradigm to estimate the infants' ability to interpret an unfamiliar human action as goal-directed. Then, they next observed the maternal interaction behavior in a free play situation and analyzed the maternal interaction style based on interaction styles. Based on the maternal interaction pattern, infants were divided into groups and their action interpretation performance was analyzed at group level. Their study provided initial evidence that the maternal interaction style is linked to the infants' early action understanding and interpretation. Their results indicated that infants of mothers with a moderately controlling interaction style, at six months of age, were better at interpreting a human action as goal-directed than infants of predominantly sensitive and unresponsive mothers. The results of this study, say the authors, add an important dimension to the widely reported outcome concerning the link between the parenting style and a child's development.

The results indicate that for some particular cognitive abilities developing very early in life, a sensitive interaction style combined with controlling parts might be an advantage. The capacity to understand human actions as goal-directed may develop in service of an adaptive strategy of social communication. Finally, their findings suggest, that the socio-cognitive development in the first months of life is much more than an unfolding of the genetic baggage and pure maturation, it is also the situation that socio-environmental factors can modulate and influence infants' early social-cognitive development.

There is also a growing effort to understand how particular information processing abilities relate to general intelligence and other aspects of cognition. One way to determine this issue is to identify the primary building blocks of intelligence and the. pathways that connect specific abilities to more general ones. One group at risk for later cognitive deficits are children born preterm or low birthweight. These deficits, which usually become apparent by the time these preterm children reach school age, include such tendencies as having lower scores on intelligent tests, language problems, and lower school achievement.

According to studies by Rosse (2007) it is now believed that some of the deficits these older children have may have started out in infancy. Research studies of information processing in the first year of life has found preterm infants to encode information more slowly than those who are born full-term and to have poorer recognition memory, recall memory, and attention spans. This knowledge base will then make it possible to consider (a) mapping the structure of infant cognition and (b) determining the role of infant abilities in the later cognitive deficits often found in preterm children.

Rosse's study of the cognition of preterms vs. fullterms looked at whether infant information processing abilities are the foundation of later cognition. Preterms and fullterms were followed from infancy to 2 and 3 years. Preterms showed deficits relative to full-terms at 12 months on many of the information processing abilities, including attention, speed, recognition and recall. These deficits, like those found earlier at 7 months, accounted for the lower developmental levels found among preterms later on, when they were 2 and 3 years of age (Rose, Feldman, Jankowski et al., 2005). The continuation of these deficits from 7 to 12 months supports the belief that individual differences in later cognitive abilities have their roots in infancy.

Future language and cognition studies will continue to look at the development of children in general. Such studies can and are more so being used to determine how to help children, such as those with autism, be able to improve and have more productive lives. There are significant individual differences in the young children's language abilities, with some proving to have long-lasting and disabling language impairments. The early diagnosis and, perhaps one day, treatment, of such impairments would be advantageous to children and society. In addition, the identification of individual differences in language skill of children would be of theoretical and practical interest to parents, educators and speech and language therapists..


Bowerman, M., & Levinson, S. C (2001). Introduction. In M. Bowerman & S.C. Levinson (Eds.), Language acquisition and conceptual development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Delgado, C.E.F., Mundy, P., Crowson, M., Markus, J., & Schwartz, H. (2002). Responding to joint attention and language development: A comparison to target location. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 45, 715-719.

A de Villiers, J. (2007) Interface of language and theory of mind. Lingua 117 1858-1878

Doherty, M.J., 2006. The development of mentalistic gaze understanding. Infant and Child Development 15, 179-186.

Gershkoff, L., and Hahn, E. (2007) Fast Mapping Skills in the Developing Lexicon Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 50 682-697

Heimann, M., Strid, K., Smith, L., Tjus, T., Ulvund, S.E.,&Meltzoff, a.N. (2006). Exploring the relation between memory, gestural communication, and the emergence of language in infancy: A longitudinal study. Infant and Child Development, 15, 233-249.

Hofer, T, Hohenberger, a., Hauf, P, and Aschersleben, G. (2007) the link between maternal interaction style and infant action understanding Infant Behavior & Development 31(1):115-26

Huttenlocher, J., Smiley, P., & Charney, R. (1983). Emergence of action categories in the child: evidence from verb meanings. Psychological Review, 90,…

Cite This Term Paper:

"Language And Cognition Is Relatively" (2008, February 11) Retrieved February 18, 2018, from

"Language And Cognition Is Relatively" 11 February 2008. Web.18 February. 2018. <>

"Language And Cognition Is Relatively", 11 February 2008, Accessed.18 February. 2018,