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Infant gaze following and pointing predict accelerated vocabulary growth through two years of age: a longitudinal, growth curve modeling study*



We found that infant gaze following and pointing predicts subsequent language development. At ages 0 ; 10 or 0 ; 11, infants saw an adult turn to look at an object in an experimental setting. Productive vocabulary was assessed longitudinally through two years of age. Growth curve modeling showed that infants who gaze followed and looked longer at the target object had significantly faster vocabulary growth than infants with shorter looks, even with maternal education controlled; adding infant pointing strengthened the model. We highlight the role of social cognition in word learning and emphasize the communicative-referential functions of early gaze following and pointing.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Rechele Brooks, University of Washington, Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, Box 357988, Seattle, WA 98195-7988. e-mail:


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Journal of Child Language
  • ISSN: 0305-0009
  • EISSN: 1469-7602
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