Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Whether verbal labels help infants visually process and categorize objects is a contentious issue. Using electroencephalography, we investigated whether possessing familiar or novel labels for objects directly enhances 1-year-old children's neural processes underlying the perception of those objects. We found enhanced gamma-band (20–60 Hz) oscillatory activity over the visual cortex in response to seeing objects with labels familiar to the infant (Experiment 1) and those with novel labels just taught to the infant (Experiment 2). No such effect was observed for objects that infants were familiar with but had no label for. These results demonstrate that learning verbal labels modulates how the visual system processes the images of the associated objects and suggest a possible top–down influence of semantic knowledge on object perception.