Object perception and object naming in early development

Barbara Landau, Linda Smith, Susan Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Among our most fundamental capacities are those that allow us to perceive, categorize and name objects. Recently, controversy has surrounded the question of how young children learn names for objects, in particular, the relative roles of perception and higher-level world knowledge. It is well known that adults depend strongly on conceptual knowledge in a variety of categorization tasks, including object naming. We argue, however, that perception may play a special role in early object naming and, in particular, that certain kinds of world knowledge known to guide adult naming may come to guide naming only rather late in development. Building early mechanisms of naming on a perceptual foundation that may be encapsulated, and thus shut off from more reflective processes, may explain in part why young children can easily and rapidly learn names for things from the adults around them, despite the fact that adults and children may possess very different conceptual organizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-24
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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