Interaction of visual information, verbal information, and linguistic competence in the preschool-aged child

J Psycholinguist Res. 1979 Nov;8(6):559-66. doi: 10.1007/BF01071183.


Carol Chomsky found evidence to support the notion that children have not mastered the syntactic form of the sentence "John is easy to see" until after the age of 8 years. However, she failed to control for the effects the visual stimulus might have had on the child's understanding of the stimulus question. This study reexamined Chomsky's conclusions by using two experimental conditions. The first condition was an exact replication of Chomsky's method, while the second included a control for the biasing effects produced by the visual stimulus. The results confirmed the authors' suspicions that the visual stimulus was indeed distorting Chomsky's findings and that, on the average, children were able to decode this particular syntactic form by the age of 67 months. These findings are discussed from the perspective of Bruner's theory, which states that cognitive processes of children under 8 years of age are dominated by the iconic mode of representation.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cues
  • Humans
  • Language Development*
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Semantics
  • Speech Perception*
  • Visual Perception*