The impact of novel labels on visual processing was investigated across two experiments with infants aged between 9 and 21 months. Infants viewed pairs of images across a series of preferential looking trials. On each trial, one image was novel, and the other image had previously been viewed by the infant. Some infants viewed images in silence; other infants viewed images accompanied by novel labels. The pattern of fixations both across and within trials revealed that infants in the labelling condition took longer to develop a novelty preference than infants in the silent condition. Our findings contrast with prior research by Robinson and Sloutsky (e.g., Robinson & Sloutsky, 2007a; Sloutsky & Robinson, 2008) who found that novel labels did not disrupt visual processing for infants aged over a year. Provided that overall task demands are sufficiently high, it appears that labels can disrupt visual processing for infants during the developmental period of establishing a lexicon. The results suggest that when infants are processing labels and objects, attentional resources are shared across modalities.
Mather, E., Schafer, G., & Houston-Price, C. (2011). The impact of novel labels on visual processing during infancy. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 29(4), 783-805. https://doi.org/10.1348/2044-835X.002008