Cognitive skills play a critical role in a person’s life from an early age. Cognitive or brain development refers to such processes as thinking, reasoning, and memorizing (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2021). Notably, for babies in the first year of life, comprehending language is more than making simple sounds as it involves listening and understanding (CDC, 2021). While each type of cognitive development is essential, the two most influential for infants’ language development are memorizing and reasoning.
Newborns learn language by remembering words and connecting them to certain actions and behaviors. Memory accounts for establishing new information in the brain, and one’s vocabulary depends on short- and long-term recollection (Jackson et al., 2021). In particular, retained memory is related to the novel word becoming more stable and integrating with existing knowledge (Jackson et al., 2021). Accordingly, children can comprehend language by reasoning about the intentions of people, and 1-years-olds are reported to be extremely engaged with others’ purposes during communication (Bohn & Frank, 2019). Consequently, babies can build connections between the visual and acoustic input when learning words (Bohn & Frank, 2019). Infants view people’s actions and can link them to certain sounds, memorizing those that occur frequently.
To summarize, out of all cognitive developments, reasoning and memorizing appear to be quite important when learning language. Although newborns cannot use vocabulary, they are able to make associations between what they hear and observe. As a result, babies begin memorizing such affinities and understanding them better further in life. Therefore, the two processes are significant in early language development because they give meaning to sounds and actions, the combinations of which retain in memory.
Bohn, M., & Frank, M. C. (2019). The pervasive role of pragmatics in early language. Annual Review of Developmental Psychology, 1, 223-249.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Child development: Infants (0-1 year of age).
Jackson, E., Leitão, S., Claessen, M., & Boyes, M. (2021). Word learning and verbal working memory in children with developmental language disorder. Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, 6, 1-20.