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Learning and Processing Abstract Words and Concepts: Insights From Typical and Atypical Development

Vigliocco, G; Ponari, M; Norbury, C; (2018) Learning and Processing Abstract Words and Concepts: Insights From Typical and Atypical Development. Topics in Cognitive Science , 10 (3) pp. 533-549. 10.1111/tops.12347. Green open access

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Abstract

The paper describes two plausible hypotheses concerning the learning of abstract words and concepts. According to a first hypothesis, children would learn abstract words by extracting co-occurrences among words in linguistic input, using, for example, mechanisms as described by models of Distributional Semantics. According to a second hypothesis, children would exploit the fact that abstract words tend to have more emotional associations than concrete words to infer that they refer to internal/mental states. Each hypothesis makes specific predictions with regards to when and which abstract words are more likely to be learned; also they make different predictions concerning the impact of developmental disorders. We start by providing a review of work characterizing how abstract words and concepts are learned in development, especially between the ages of 6 and 12. Second, we review some work from our group that tests the two hypotheses above. This work investigates typically developing (TD) children and children with atypical development (developmental language disorders [DLD] and autism spectrum disorder [ASD] with and without language deficits). We conclude that the use of strategies based on emotional information, or on co-occurrences in language, may play a role at different developmental stages.

Type: Article
Title: Learning and Processing Abstract Words and Concepts: Insights From Typical and Atypical Development
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/tops.12347
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/tops.12347
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Abstract concepts, Autism spectrum disorders, Developmental language disorders, Semantic memory, Vocabulary development
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Language and Cognition
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10050375
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