This longitudinal study investigated individual differences in the relationship between words and representational gestures in a sample of 104 Italian children between 12 and 23 months of age, using two parent-report questionnaires. Multivariate analyses reached three main conclusions. First, a high gesture frequency did not enhance language development when word production was equated and children showing a prevalence of words over gestures outperformed those showing a prevalence of gestures over words at all ages. Second, an early predominance of gestures at 12 months did not hamper the acquisition of verbal abilities, while the persistence of a gestural advantage at 16 and 20 months was related to a slower language development at 23 months. Finally, for infants with small gestural repertoires at 12 months, a high frequency of gesture use benefitted the process of lexical learning. These findings support the hypothesis that representational gestures bridge the transition from pre-linguistic to symbolic communication. However, they also suggest that the role of representational gestures might be less critical than previously proposed, being mostly evident in the earlier phases of the second year of life. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Individual differences in the prevalence of words and gestures in the second year of life: Developmental trends in Italian children / Longobardi, Emiddia; ROSSI ARNAUD, Clelia Matilde; Spataro, Pietro. - In: INFANT BEHAVIOR & DEVELOPMENT. - ISSN 0163-6383. - STAMPA. - 35:4(2012), pp. 847-859. [10.1016/j.infbeh.2012.07.024]