One-year-old infant's ability to group objects according to the names associated with them - as opposed to their appearance alone - offers a glimpse into how their vocabulary will develop by the time they are 18 months, shows a new study.
The study underscores importance of talking to your baby well before they can talk back.
"Imagine you are taking your baby for a visit to the primate house at the zoo," said lead author Brock Ferguson from Northwestern University in the US.
"There are gorillas, chimpanzees and monkeys in the primate house. Although all the primates look fairly similar, but we know them to be different because we refer to them by different names," Ferguson noted.
In that hypothetical scenario, 12-month-old babies who conclude that all of the primates belong in the same category, despite the fact that parents have referred to each by a different name, tend to have a less developed vocabulary, according to the new findings.
"In our study, babies who went ahead and grouped objects together even though the researchers had labeled them with distinct names were later found to know fewer words," Ferguson said.
The study examined whether individual differences in the precision of 12-month-olds' ability to link language and object categories was related to both their present and future vocabulary growth.
The findings will appear in an upcoming issue of the open access journal Frontiers in Psychology