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Multimodal infant-directed communication: how caregivers combine tactile and linguistic cues*


Both touch and speech independently have been shown to play an important role in infant development. However, little is known about how they may be combined in the input to the child. We examined the use of touch and speech together by having mothers read their 5-month-olds books about body parts and animals. Results suggest that speech+touch multimodal events are characterized by more exaggerated touch and speech cues. Further, our results suggest that maternal touches are aligned with speech and that mothers tend to touch their infants in locations that are congruent with names of body parts. Thus, our results suggest that tactile cues could potentially aid both infant word segmentation and word learning.

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[*]Address for correspondence: Rana Abu-Zhaya, Purdue University, Lyles-Porter Hall, West Lafayette, IN 47907. E-mail:
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Journal of Child Language
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