Does speed of processing or vocabulary size predict later language growth in toddlers?

Peter, MS, Durrant, S, Jessop, A, Bidgood, A ORCID:, Pine, JM and Rowland, CF 2019, 'Does speed of processing or vocabulary size predict later language growth in toddlers?' , Cognitive Psychology, 115 , p. 101238.

PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (3MB) | Preview


It is becoming increasingly clear that the way that children acquire cognitive representations depends critically on how their processing system is developing. In particular, recent studies suggest that individual differences in language processing speed play an important role in explaining the speed with which children acquire language. Inconsistencies across studies, however, mean that it is not clear whether this relationship is causal or correlational, whether it is present right across development, or whether it extends beyond word learning to affect other aspects of language learning, like syntax acquisition. To address these issues, the current study used the looking-while-listening paradigm devised by Fernald, Swingley, and Pinto (2001) to test the speed with which a large longitudinal cohort of children (the Language 0–5 Project) pro-cessed language at 19, 25, and 31 months of age, and took multiple measures of vocabulary (UK-CDI, Lincoln CDI, CDI-III) and syntax (Lincoln CDI) between 8 and 37 months of age. Processing speed correlated with vocabulary size - though this relationship changed over time, and was observed only when there was variation in how well the items used in the looking-while-listening task were known. Fast processing speed was a positive predictor of subsequent vocabulary growth, but only for children with smaller vocabularies. Faster processing speed did, however, predict faster syntactic growth across the whole sample, even when controlling for concurrent vocabulary. The results indicate a relatively direct relationship between processing speed and syntactic development, but point to a more complex interaction between processing speed, vocabulary size and subsequent vocabulary growth.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society
Journal or Publication Title: Cognitive Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0010-0285
Related URLs:
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), International Centre for Language and Communicative Development (LuCiD) at the University of Liverpool
Depositing User: A Bidgood
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2019 11:01
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 02:46

Actions (login required)

Edit record (repository staff only) Edit record (repository staff only)


Downloads per month over past year