Relation of infants' and mothers' pointing to infants' vocabulary measured directly and with parental reports

Sura Ertas*, Sümeyye Koskulu, Ebru Ger, Ulf Liszkowski, Aylin C. Kuntay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Infants' and parents' pointing gestures predict infants' concurrent and prospective language development. Most studies have measured vocabulary size using parental reports. However, parents tend to underestimate or overestimate infants' vocabulary necessitating the use of direct measures alongside parent reports. The present study examined whether mothers' index-finger pointing, and infants' whole-hand and index-finger pointing at 14 months associate with infants' receptive and expressive vocabulary based on parental reports and directly measured lexical processing efficiency (LPE) concurrently at 14 months and prospectively at 18 months. We used the decorated room paradigm to measure pointing frequency, the Turkish communicative development inventory I to measure infants' receptive vocabulary, Turkish communicative development inventory II to measure their expressive vocabulary, and the Looking-While-Listening (LWL) task to measure LPE. At 14 months, 34 mother-infant dyads, and at 18 months, 30 dyads were included in the analyses. We found that only infants' index-finger pointing frequency at 14 months predicted their LPE (both reaction time and accuracy) prospectively at 18 months but not concurrently at 14 months. Neither maternal pointing nor infants' pointing predicted their receptive and expressive vocabulary based on indirect measurement. The results extend the evidence on the relation between index-finger pointing and language development to a more direct measure of vocabulary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1029
Number of pages23
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023


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