Reproducing experiments on early verb understanding in infants

Vidya Ayer, Christian Witte, Philipp Cimiano, Katharina Rohlfing, Iris Nomikou

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In this chapter, we describe an effort to reproduce the main result of the paper “Evidence for early comprehension of action verbs” by Nomikou et al. [1]. The study aimed at investigating the ability of 9-and-10-month old infants in under- standing verbs. The study in question followed a so called preferential looking paradigm consisting in investigating the ability to understand the meaning of words by testing whether infants look longer at a related stimulus compared to an unrelated stimulus. As a method to track looking time proportions to the target stimulus, an eye tracker was used. Data were collected from 9- to 10-month old infants who were presented with paired-picture trials while lis- tening to corresponding verbs. The infants saw two images on the screen side by side, each one from a different context category (CARE or PLAY). One of the pictures was related to the verb in question, while the other image was a confounder. The percentage of time that infants looked at the matching pic- ture, before and after having heard the verb, was recorded across participants, computing a difference score. In case the difference was positive, this was taken as evidence of understanding the meaning of the verbs. The study could only find a positive difference for 10-month olds but not for 9-month olds, showing that the ability to understand the verb in question emerges between 9 and 10 months. In close interaction with the authors of the original paper we rewrote the analysis scripts which were used by the authors to refine the results during a second iteration of reviewing in response to requests by reviewers. Overall, we could reproduce the central results of the study. This case represents a case of full analytical reproducibility.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies in Analytical Reproducibility: the Conquaire Project
EditorsPhillip Cimiano, Christian Pietsch, Cord Wiljes
PublisherBielefeld University
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-943363-06-7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


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