Semantic processing of actions at 9 months is linked to language proficiency at 9 and 18 months

Kaduk, Katharina and Bakker, Marta and Juvrud, Joshua and Gredebäck, Gustaf and Westermann, Gert and Lunn, Judith and Reid, Vincent Michael (2016) Semantic processing of actions at 9 months is linked to language proficiency at 9 and 18 months. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 151. pp. 96-108. ISSN 0022-0965

[thumbnail of JECP-D-15-00168R4]
PDF (JECP-D-15-00168R4)
JECP_D_15_00168R4.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs.

Download (1MB)


The current study uses event-related potential methodologies to investigate how social–cognitive processes in preverbal infants relate to language performance. We assessed 9-month-olds’ understanding of the semantic structure of actions via an N400 event-related potential (ERP) response to action sequences that contained expected and unexpected outcomes. At 9 and 18 months of age, infants’ language abilities were measured using the Swedish Early Communicative Development Inventory (SECDI). Here we show that 9-month-olds’ understanding of the semantic structure of actions, evidenced in an N400 ERP response to action sequences with unexpected outcomes, is related to language comprehension scores at 9 months and is related to language production scores at 18 months of age. Infants who showed a selective N400 response to unexpected action outcomes are those who are classed as above mean in their language proficiency. The results provide evidence that language performance is related to the ability to detect and interpret human actions at 9 months of age. This study suggests that some basic cognitive mechanisms are involved in the processing of sequential events that are shared between two conceptually different cognitive domains and that pre-linguistic social understanding skills and language proficiency are linked to one another.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 151, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2016.02.003
?? action understandingsemantic processingn400language acquisitionncerp ??
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
18 Feb 2016 11:32
Last Modified:
31 Dec 2023 00:39