Article

Isolated words enhance statistical language learning in infancy.

Department of Psychology and Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI 53705-2280, USA.
Developmental Science (Impact Factor: 3.89). 11/2011; 14(6):1323-9. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2011.01079.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Infants are adept at tracking statistical regularities to identify word boundaries in pause-free speech. However, researchers have questioned the relevance of statistical learning mechanisms to language acquisition, since previous studies have used simplified artificial languages that ignore the variability of real language input. The experiments reported here embraced a key dimension of variability in infant-directed speech. English-learning infants (8-10 months) listened briefly to natural Italian speech that contained either fluent speech only or a combination of fluent speech and single-word utterances. Listening times revealed successful learning of the statistical properties of target words only when words appeared both in fluent speech and in isolation; brief exposure to fluent speech alone was not sufficient to facilitate detection of the words' statistical properties. This investigation suggests that statistical learning mechanisms actually benefit from variability in utterance length, and provides the first evidence that isolated words and longer utterances act in concert to support infant word segmentation.

0 Bookmarks
 · 
144 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Throughout their 1st year, infants adeptly detect statistical structure in their environment. However, little is known about whether statistical learning is a primary mechanism for event segmentation. This study directly tests whether statistical learning alone is sufficient to segment continuous events. Twenty-eight 7- to 9-month-old infants viewed a sequence of continuous actions performed by a novel agent in which there were no transitional movements that could have constrained the possible upcoming actions. At test, infants distinguished statistically intact units from less predictable ones. The ability to segment events using statistical structure may help infants discover other cues to event boundaries, such as intentions, and carve up the world of continuous motion in meaningful ways.
    Child Development 04/2014; · 4.92 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Several previous studies have already pointed out the usefulness of child-directed speech for several tasks during the language acquisition process. In particular, recent research suggests that the kind of structural and lexical simplifications found in the type of language especially addressed to language learning infants (i.e. utterance length and lexical redundancy) are particularly useful for preverbal infants' initial word segmentation of the speech stream. While most research conducted to date is based on English data, little is known about the facilitation effects that child-directed speech might have in other languages. The present study aims at providing cross-linguistic evidence for the usefulness of child-directed speech by analyzing speech samples addressed to Catalan-learning children.
    RLA. Revista de lingüística teórica y aplicada. 12/2012; 51(2):13-27.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Language learners rapidly acquire extensive semantic knowledge, but the development of this knowledge is difficult to study, in part because it is difficult to assess young children's lexical semantic representations. In our studies, we solved this problem by investigating lexical semantic knowledge in 24-month-olds using the Head-turn Preference Procedure. In Experiment 1, looking times to a repeating spoken word stimulus (e.g., kitty-kitty-kitty) were shorter for trials preceded by a semantically related word (e.g., dog-dog-dog) than trials preceded by an unrelated word (e.g., juice-juice-juice). Experiment 2 yielded similar results using a method in which pairs of words were presented on the same trial. The studies provide evidence that young children activate of lexical semantic knowledge, and critically, that they do so in the absence of visual referents or sentence contexts. Auditory lexical priming is a promising technique for studying the development and structure of semantic knowledge in young children.
    Infancy 11/2013; 18(6). · 1.73 Impact Factor

Preview

Download
0 Downloads
Available from