Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception Institut Neurosciences Cognition Université Paris Descartes Centre National de Recherche Scientifique
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Picture naming in young children: a developmental study on interhemispheric collaboration

The aim of the present study was to determine how interhemispheric collaboration and visual attention in basic lexical tasks develop during early childhood. Two- to 6-year-old children were asked to name two different pictures presented simultaneously either one in each visual hemifield (bilateral condition) or both in a single hemifield (either right or left, unilateral condition). In the bilateral condition, children were overall more accurate in naming right visual field than left visual field pictures. This difference was significant for 2- and 3- to 4-year-old children, but not for 5- to 6-year-old children. These results show that the right and left cerebral hemispheres do not develop naming competencies equally well in early childhood. A second analysis, based on the order of report, showed that when 2- and 3- to 4-year-old children named both the left and the right visual field pictures, they named the right visual field picture first. In contrast, at the age of 5-6 years, children named the left visual field picture first and overall naming performance reached a ceiling level. Several interpretations are proposed to explain this shift of visual attention at the age of 5-6 years. In the unilateral condition, no difference was found between naming accuracy in the right and left visual fields, presumably because interhemispheric pathways are functional: visual stimuli presented to the right hemisphere can be processed by the most competent left hemisphere without degradation of information. This result confirms previous findings on the development of interhemispheric collaboration.



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