Prelinguistic infants are sensitive to space-pitch associations found across cultures
until further notice
Number of pages
SourcePsychological Science, 25, 6, (2014), pp. 1256-1261
Article / Letter to editor
Display more detailsDisplay less details
SW OZ DCC PL
SW OZ DCC CO
Communicatie- en informatiewetenschappen
SubjectAction, intention, and motor control; DI-BCB_DCC_Theme 2: Perception, Action and Control; Language in Society; Meaning, culture and cognition; The study of olfactory language and cognition across diverse cultures, as well as within specialist communities such as perfumiers and wine-tasters (Vici)
People often talk about musical pitch using spatial metaphors. In English, for instance, pitches can be "high" or "low" (i.e., height-pitch association), whereas in other languages, pitches are described as "thin" or "thick" (i.e., thickness-pitch association). According to results from psychophysical studies, metaphors in language can shape people's nonlinguistic space-pitch representations. But does language establish mappings between space and pitch in the first place, or does it only modify preexisting associations? To find out, we tested 4-month-old Dutch infants' sensitivity to height-pitch and thickness-pitch mappings using a preferential-looking paradigm. The infants looked significantly longer at cross-modally congruent stimuli for both space-pitch mappings, which indicates that infants are sensitive to these associations before language acquisition. The early presence of space-pitch mappings means that these associations do not originate from language. Instead, language builds on preexisting mappings, changing them gradually via competitive associative learning. Space-pitch mappings that are language-specific in adults develop from mappings that may be universal in infants.
Upload full text
Use your RU credentials (u/z-number and password) to log in with SURFconext to upload a file for processing by the repository team.