Publications of Gliga, T.

Verbal labels modulate perceptual object processing in one-year-old children

It has been debated whether acquiring verbal labels helps infants' visual processing and categorization of objects. Using electroencephalography, we investigated whether possessing or learning verbal labels for objects directly enhances one-year-old infants' neural processes underlying the perception of those objects. We found enhanced gamma-band (20 to 60 Hz) oscillatory activity over the visual cortex in response to seeing objects whose names one-year-old infants knew (Experiment 1), or for which they had just been taught a label (Experiment 2). No such effect was observed for objects with which the infants were simply familiar without having a label for them. These results demonstrate that learning verbal labels modulates how the visual system processes the images of the associated objects, and suggest a possible route of top-down influence of semantic knowledge on object perception.

One-year-old infants appreciate the referential nature of deictic gestures and words

One-year-old infants have a small receptive vocabulary and follow deictic gestures, but it is still debated whether they appreciate the referential nature of these signals. Demonstrating understanding of the complementary roles of symbolic (word) and indexical (pointing) reference provides evidence of referential interpretation of communicative signals. We presented 13-month-old infants with video sequences of an actress indicating the position of a hidden object while naming it. The infants looked longer when the named object was revealed not at the location indicated by the actress's gestures, but on the opposite side of the display. This finding suggests that infants expect that concurrently occurring communicative signals co-refer to the same object. Another group of infants, who were shown video sequences in which the naming and the deictic cues were provided concurrently but by two different people, displayed no evidence of expectation of co-reference. These findings suggest that a single communicative source, and not simply co-occurrence, is required for mapping the two signals onto each other. By 13 months of age, infants appreciate the referential nature of words and deictic gestures alike.

Seeing the face through the eyes: A developmental perspective on face expertise

Most people are experts in face recognition. We propose that the special status of this particular body part in telling individuals apart is the result of a developmental process that heavily biases human infants and children to attend towards the eyes of others. We review the evidence supporting this proposal, including neuroimaging results and studies in developmental disorders, like autism. We propose that the most likely explanation of infants’ bias towards eyes is the fact that eye gaze serves important communicative functions in humans.