Publication details [#60932]

Cangelosi, Angelo, Katherine E. Twomey, Anthony F. Morse and Jessica S. Horst. 2016. Children's referent selection and word learning. Insights from a developmental robotic system. Interaction Studies 17 (1) : 93–119.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


It is well-established that toddlers can correctly select a novel referent from an ambiguous array in response to a novel label. There is also a growing consensus that robust word learning requires repeated label-object encounters. However, the effect of the context in which a novel object is encountered is less well-understood. This paper presents two embodied neural network replications of recent empirical tasks, which demonstrated that the context in which a target object is encountered is fundamental to referent selection and word learning. This model offers an explicit account of the bottom-up associative and embodied mechanisms which could support children’s early word learning and emphasises the importance of viewing behaviour as the interaction of learning at multiple timescales.