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Abstract

At the forefront of research on language are new data demonstrating infants' strategies in the early acquisition of language. The data show that infants perceptually "map" critical aspects of ambient language in the first year of life before they can speak. Statistical and abstract properties of speech are picked up through exposure to ambient language. Moreover, linguistic experience alters infants' perception of speech, warping perception in a way that enhances native-language speech processing. Infants' strategies are unexpected and unpredicted by historical views. At the same time, research in three additional disciplines is contributing to our understanding of language and its acquisition by children. Cultural anthropologists are demonstrating the universality of adult speech behavior when addressing infants and children across cultures, and this is creating a new view of the role adult speakers play in bringing about language in the child. Neuroscientists, using the techniques of modern brain imaging, are revealing the temporal and structural aspects of language processing by the brain and suggesting new views of the critical period for language. Computer scientists, modeling the computational aspects of childrens' language acquisition, are meeting success using biologically inspired neural networks. Although a consilient view cannot yet be offered, the cross-disciplinary interaction now seen among scientists pursuing one of humans' greatest achievements, language, is quite promising.

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... A língua falada pode ser caracterizada por dois componentes essenciais: a prosódia (padrões de acento e inflexão -essencialmente conotativos) e o vocabulário (incluindo os elementos fonéticos e semânticos -essencialmente denotativos). Estudos a respeito da função cerebral, tanto num indivíduo saudável (Van Lancker, 1997) quanto num que passou por traumas (Gardner, 1977), indicam que a prosódia tende a ser regulada pelo hemisfério direito, enquanto que a linguagem é influenciada principalmente pelo hemisfério esquerdo (Kuhl et al., 2001). Em outras palavras, parece que a "melodia" da voz falada é processada predominantemente em áreas do hemisfério direito que são adjacentes àquelas implicadas no processamento das alturas. ...
... Além disso, estudos com essa linguagem materna em diferentes línguas -como a alemã, a russa, a da América caucasiana e o mandarim chinês -indicam que tais características musicais mostram-se culturalmente universais, independentemente da língua falada pela mãe (H. Papousek, 1996;Kuhl et al., 2001). Em todos os casos, as mães foram observadas exagerando as características acústicas da fala quando se dirigiam às crianças novas (incluindo o exagero nas diferenças acústicas nas vogais, quando comparadas com a fala que tinham com adultos [Kuhl et al., 2001]). ...
... Papousek, 1996;Kuhl et al., 2001). Em todos os casos, as mães foram observadas exagerando as características acústicas da fala quando se dirigiam às crianças novas (incluindo o exagero nas diferenças acústicas nas vogais, quando comparadas com a fala que tinham com adultos [Kuhl et al., 2001]). ...
Chapter
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This chapter is a translation and update of “The Misunderstanding of Music”. The original text was written in 2001 for an inaugural lecture delivered at the Institute of Education (formerly University of London). The text was reviewed, updated and translated for this book in collaboration with Silvia Sobreira and Marcelo Sampaio. Although not well known in Brazil, Dr. Welch is respected worldwide for his studies on the development of children’s voices. In his text he shows that vocal development is related to the individual’s social context and his/her neuropsychobiological development. He emphasizes that musical behaviour is a characteristic common to all human beings, not just for those considered “talented”.
... The importance of the works of perception would depart from the assumption of speech as an act that has a mechanism that would involve production and, at the end of this process, perception (Barbosa, 1995: 2). Kuhl (2000) and Kuhl et al. (2001) in their perceptual studies postulated a fixed and non-abstract prototypical form that would serve as a magnetic attraction to the other perceived forms. 1 Thus, not all the range of variations is perceived, but only those that play significant role, in this case, the result of a perceptual attraction of the stimuli that reach nearby regions. ...
... 4 The decomposition of the speech-bearing sound wave starts from the definition of its mean pitch as a prototypical form, to which all the neighboring frequencies converge. This proposal is based on the perceptual magnet effect (PME) developed by Kuhl and his colleagues (Kuhl 2000;Iverson Kuhl 1995;Tsao, Liu;Zahng;De Boer 2001) In this PME model, it is assumed that there is a fixed, non-abstract prototypical form that acts as an initial comparison parameter for all other forms that may be perceived. This proposal of analysis also brings to the fore the principle that the initial elements of language acquisition will be taken as fixed prototypical forms and correspond to the extremes of these achievements. ...
... 4 The decomposition of the speech-bearing sound wave starts from the definition of its mean pitch as a prototypical form, to which all the neighboring frequencies converge. This proposal is based on the perceptual magnet effect (PME) developed by Kuhl and his colleagues (Kuhl 2000;Iverson Kuhl 1995;Tsao, Liu;Zahng;De Boer 2001) In this PME model, it is assumed that there is a fixed, non-abstract prototypical form that acts as an initial comparison parameter for all other forms that may be perceived. This proposal of analysis also brings to the fore the principle that the initial elements of language acquisition will be taken as fixed prototypical forms and correspond to the extremes of these achievements. ...
... The infant's incredible ability to virtually discriminate every phonetic contrast of all languages, initially taken as evidence for "innate phonetic feature detectors specifically evolved for speech", was also found when the stimuli are non-speech sounds that mimicked speech features, a categorical perception of phonemes also exhibited by several animal species, and monkeys, including perception of the prosodic cues of speech as well (Ramus, Hauser, Miller, Morris & Mehler, 2000). This discriminative capacity could be accounted by domain-general cognitive mechanisms rather than one that evolved specifically for language (Kuhl, Tsao, Liu, Zhang & De Boer, 2001). In addition, contrary to the modularity view which argues that linguistic experience produces either maintenance or loss of phonetic detectors, new evidences show that infants exhibit genuine developmental change, not merely maintenance of an initial ability. ...
... In addition, contrary to the modularity view which argues that linguistic experience produces either maintenance or loss of phonetic detectors, new evidences show that infants exhibit genuine developmental change, not merely maintenance of an initial ability. At 7 months, american, japanese and taiwanese infants performed equally well in discriminating between native and non-native language sounds, whereas at 11 months of age they showed a significant increase in native-language phonetic perception and a decrease in the perception of foreign-language phonemes (Kuhl et al., 2001). An emerging view suggests that infants engage in a new kind of learning in which language input is mapped in detail by the infant brain. ...
... In the pitch dimension, infantcaregiver interactions tend to exhibit the same range of characteristics such as exaggerated pitch contours on the caregiver's part ('motherese'), and melodic modulation and primitive articulation on the infant's part, all in the context of an interactive and kinaesthetic rhythmicity. On the part of the infant, these activities develop into exploratory vocal play (between 4 and 6 months) which gives rise to repetitive babbling (from 7 to 11 months) from which emerges both variegated babbling and early words (between 9 and 13 months) (Kuhl et al., 2001;Papousek, 1996aPapousek, , 1996b. Linguistic behavior begins to differentiate from infant proto-musical/proto-linguistic capacities as the infant develops, when the parent/infant interactions increasingly make use of vocalizations and gestures to communicate affect in the exchange of 'requests' further supporting the development of referential gestures and vocalizations, orienting the attention of both participants to objects, events and persons outside the parent-infant dyad (Cross, 2001). ...
Article
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Here we review the most important psychological aspects of music, its neural substrates, its universality and likely biological origins and, finally, how the study of neurocognition and emotions of music can provide one of the most important windows to the comprehension of the higher brain functioning and human mind. We begin with the main aspects of the theory of modularity, its behavioral and neuropsychological evidences. Then, we discuss basic psychology and neuropsychology of music and show how music and language are cognitively and neurofunctionally related. Subsequently we briefly present the evidences against the view of a high degree of specification and encapsulation of the putative language module, and how the ethnomusicological, pscychological and neurocognitive studies on music help to shed light on the issues of modularity and evolution, and appear to give further support for a cross-modal, interactive view of neurocognitive processes. Finally, we will argue that the notion of large modules do not adequately describe the organization of complex brain functions such as language, math or music, and propose a less radical view of modularity, in which the modular systems are specified not at the level of culturally determined cognitive domains but more at the level of perceptual and sensorimotor representations. © Cien. Cogn. 2011; Vol. 16 (1): 137-164.
... It reflects the articulatory 'working space' used by a specific speaker; a larger working space allows greater articulatory precision and results in robust acoustic differences between phonetic units. These data in turn suggest that ID speech, with its expanded vowel space (Burnham et al. , 2002; Kuhl et al. , 1997), represents especially 'clear speech' (Kuhl et al. , 2001; Lindblom, 1990). ...
... The present study was designed to examine whether the vowel space is expanded in ID speech spoken by Mandarin mothers, as shown in previous experiments with English, Swedish and Russian mothers (Burnham et al. , 2002; Kuhl et al. , 1997), and to determine whether the degree of exaggeration in individual mothers' speech is associated with infants' speech perception skill. The test of infant speech discrimination involved a consonant affricate-fricative contrast shown to be discriminable by Mandarin-learning infants at 7 and 11 months of age (Kuhl et al. , 2001). ...
... The quality of stimuli was judged to be excellent by phoneticians and Mandarinnative adult speakers before the beginning of the experiment . The affricate–fricative contrast used in the present study was successfully discriminated by Mandarinlearning infants at 6–8 and 10–12 months of age in a previous study (Kuhl et al. , 2001). ...
Article
Abstract The quality of speech directed towards infants may play an important role in infants’ language development. However, few studies have examined the link between the two. We examined the correlation between maternal speech clarity and infant speech perception performance in two groups of Mandarin-speaking mother–infant pairs. Maternal speech clarity was assessed using the degree of expansion of the vowel space, a measure previously shown to reflect the intelligibility of words and sentences. Speech discrimination in the infants (6–8 and 10–12-month-olds) was measured using a head-turn task. The results show that mothers’ vowel space area is significantly correlated with infants’ speech discrimination performance. Socioeconomic data from both parents show that the result cannot be attributed to parental socioeconomic factors. This study is correlational and therefore a causal relationship cannot be firmly established. However, the results are consistent with the view that maternal speech clarity directly affects infants’ early language learning.
... Recent data show that during the same 6-to 12-mo period, there is a significant increase in native-language speech percep-tion performance, indicating that phonetic development involves growth rather than the simple maintenance of phonetic abilities (19). Kuhl et al. (19) have argued that the decline in infants' foreign-language perception is directly related to nativelanguage learning, proposing that exposure to a specific language results in ''neural commitment'' to the acoustic properties of that language. ...
... Tokens were equalized in rms amplitude and played to infants at a comfortable listening level of 65 dBA. Mandarin native-speaking adults show near perfect discrimination of these two computersynthesized Mandarin sounds, whereas American English native speakers are significantly worse (19). Syllable counts of the exposure sessions showed that among the natural syllables infants heard during the exposure sessions, the two Mandarin syllables accounted for 6.5% (range ϭ 5.5-7.2%). ...
... The current results can be compared with our previous findings of similarly aged children tested in Taiwan, who had been raised listening to their native Mandarin language (Fig. 2C) (19). The previous research compared Mandarin speech discrimination in Chinese and American infants tested in their home countries. ...
Article
Full-text available
Infants acquire language with remarkable speed, although little is known about the mechanisms that underlie the acquisition process. Studies of the phonetic units of language have shown that early in life, infants are capable of discerning differences among the phonetic units of all languages, including native- and foreign-language sounds. Between 6 and 12 mo of age, the ability to discriminate foreign-language phonetic units sharply declines. In two studies, we investigate the necessary and sufficient conditions for reversing this decline in foreign-language phonetic perception. In Experiment 1, 9-mo-old American infants were exposed to native Mandarin Chinese speakers in 12 laboratory sessions. A control group also participated in 12 language sessions but heard only English. Subsequent tests of Mandarin speech perception demonstrated that exposure to Mandarin reversed the decline seen in the English control group. In Experiment 2, infants were exposed to the same foreign-language speakers and materials via audiovisual or audio-only recordings. The results demonstrated that exposure to recorded Mandarin, without interpersonal interaction, had no effect. Between 9 and 10 mo of age, infants show phonetic learning from live, but not prerecorded, exposure to a foreign language, suggesting a learning process that does not require long-term listening and is enhanced by social interaction.
... Therefore, a completely different mapping is required to learn the phonetic perception of a new language. During the formation of the new mapping, the primary network constrains the training of the new network [16], [19], [20]. ...
... This is consistent with the idea of CCM; single mapping process gives more advanced performance than multiple mapping processes. Also these experimental results corroborate the findings reported in Kuhl et al. [19]. The experimental results are simple but efficient, and can be applied directly to companies that provide DS-NMT services without difficulty. ...
Article
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Existing methods of training domain-specialized neural machine translation (DS-NMT) models are based on the pretrain-finetuning approach (PFA). In this study, we reinterpret existing methods based on the perspective of cognitive science related to cross language speech perception. We propose the cross communication method (CCM), a new DS-NMT training approach. Inspired by the learning method of infants, we perform DS-NMT training by configuring and training DC and GC concurrently in batches. Quantitative and qualitative analysis of our experimental results show that CCM can achieve superior performance compared to the conventional methods. Additionally, we conducted an experiment considering the DS-NMT service to meet industrial demands.
... This transition reflects the formation of a language-specific filter, which makes learning a second language more difficult. Kuhl, Tsao, et al. (2001) claim the creation of a sound map "commits" neural structure and this "neural commitment to a learned structure interferes with the processing of information not conforming to the learned pattern" (p. 161). ...
Article
This paper argues for explicit phoneme perception training. It discusses infant phoneme acquisition studies and relates these studies to second language learners. The first half of the article is an account of infant language acquisition studies and uses the Native Language Model, as developed by Patricia Kuhl, to conceptualize an infant’s phoneme acquisition process. The second half of this paper deals with what L1 phoneme acquisition means for adult second language learners. Three questions are addressed: First, to what extent can L2 learners’ perceptual patterns be modified after the initial neural commitment? Second, is phonemic training with adult learners worthwhile? And, third, what methodologies are the most effective for modifying an L2 learner’s initial L1 phoneme structure? The techniques discussed are contrastive exposure, making the phoneme salient, and high-variability. 本論は、明示的に行う音素認識トレーニングについて論じる。乳幼児の音素習得研究を論議し、これらの研究を第2言語学習者に関連づける。前半は乳幼児の言語習得研究の説明において、Patricia Kuhlの乳幼児の音素習得プロセスを概念したNative Language Magnet Theoryを用いている。後半では、乳幼児の第1言語音素習得が大人である第2言語学習者にどのような意味を持つのかを述べる。次の3点を検討する。1)第2言語学習者の音素認識パターンは、第1言語でのパターンが確立した後、どの程度修正されることができるのか。2)大人の学習者に対する音素認識トレーニングは価値があるのか。3)第2言語学習者における第1言語の音素構造を修正するには、どのような方法が最も効果的なのか。論議されている手法は、音素を際立たせ、高い変動性をもたらす対照提示である。
... Werker and Tees, 2005). Second language acquisition in adulthood can also be improved by manipulating the language input to incorporate the basic principles underlying infants' acquisition of the sound patterns of their native language (e.g., Zhang et al., 2005;Kuhl et al., 2001). In Tunisia, Arabic as a first language of the society and French, as a first language of science may help to improve the spoken English of adult researchers. ...
Thesis
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Suggested solutions to some problems of Tunisian novice researchers with academic writing in English: case studies of a Research Article (Gallela et al., 2009) and a Master Thesis (Essefi, 2009) THESIS presented to the University of Sfax in the partial fulfilment of the thesis requirement for the Professional Master's degree in Specialized English
... Similarly, within the auditory system, young infants can initially distinguish between native and non-native phonemes to their spoken language. However, as they gain spoken language experience, their speech perception becomes tuned to speech sounds that are meaningful units of analysis in their native language (Kuhl, Tsao, Liu, Zhang, & De Boer, 2001). This "tuning" can be difficult to overcome in adulthood, as evidenced by the difficulty second language learners have in categorically perceiving phonemes in the second language that are not shared with their native language phoneme inventory (McCandliss, Fiez, Protopapas, Conway, & McClelland, 2002). ...
Article
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Adult second language learners typically aim to acquire both spoken and written proficiency in the second language (L2). It is widely assumed that adults fully retain the capacity they used to acquire literacy as children for their native language (L1). However, given basic principles of neural plasticity and a limited body of empirical evidence, this assumption merits investigation. Accordingly, the current work used an artificial orthography approach to investigate behavioral and neural measures of learning as adult participants acquired a second orthography for English across six weeks of training. One group learned HouseFont, an alphabetic system in which house images are used to represent English phonemes, and the other learned Faceabary, an alphasyllabic system in which face images are used to represent English syllables. The findings demonstrate that adults have considerable capacity to learn a second orthography, even when it involves perceptually atypical graphs, as evidenced by performance improvements that were sustained across weeks of training. They also demonstrate that this learning involves assimilation into the same reading network that supports native literacy, as evidenced by learning related changes in orthographic, phonological, and semantic regions associated with English word reading. Additionally, we found learning patterns that varied across the two orthographies. Faceabary induced bilateral learning effects in the mid-fusiform gyrus and showed greater engagement of regions associated with semantic processing. We speculate the large graph inventories of non-alphabetic systems may create visual-perceptual challenges that increase reliance on holistic reading procedures and associated neural substrates.
... Evidence from infants and children seems to provide strong support for this usage based perspective (Goldberg, Casenhiser, & Sethuraman, 2004;Tomasello, 2009). It is also known that the correlation structure (co-occurrence statistics) of percepts and verbal labels is mapped in the absence of an explicit task and without explicit feedback (Kuhl, 2000;Kuhl, Tsao, Liu, Zhang, & De Boer, 2001). Well established Hebbian learning offers a plausible neurobiological mechanism for such usage based task free learning (Garagnani & Pulvermüller, 2015;Pulvermüller, Garagnani, & Wennekers, 2014). ...
Article
One of the key statements of linguistic relativity is that language has a causal effect on perception. Although much previous research has addressed such putative language perception causality, no firm proof is available thus far which demonstrates that verbal labels help or otherwise influence perceptual processes. Here, we tested the hypothesis of language perception causality by using novel, minimally-different tactile-patterned stimuli applied to the finger, which initially could not be discriminated by our participants. By combining novel verbal pseudoword- and novel tactile-patterned stimuli in an implicit learning experiment, we show a language-induced facilitation in tactile-patterned stimulus discrimination. After one week of intensive yet implicit learning of tactile stimuli in the presence of irrelevant consistent verbal labels, participants demonstrated significant discrimination improvement. In contrast, the same participants showed no improvement in discriminating tactile-patterned stimuli that had been learnt in the context of variable linguistic stimuli. These results show that specific mental links between verbal labels and perceptual information brought about by their correlated presentation enable one to better discriminate said sensory information (and build percepts).
... Uma discussão central quando se fala em percepção de fala refere-se a qual é o elemento alvo da percepção de um falante: os elementos linguísticos ou a elocução em si? Embora grande parte dos estudos se utilizem de material de laboratório, sem os estímulos externos derivados do contexto de fala, podemos assumir, por ora, que o primeiro passo no processo de percepção é a decodificação do sinal de fala, ainda que no interior de um conjunto maior de estímulos sonoros. A partir deste processo o ouvinte é capaz de detectar os padrões do som da fala, mesmo com os efeitos de outras fontes tomando parte, sendo assim possível rastrear os elementos linguísticos que estão presentes em uma elocução (CHERRY, 1953;KUHL, 2001). Neste sentido, em primeiro nível, o elemento alvo da percepção de um falante seria a elocução, o que explicaria a capacidade de se identificar um sinal de fala de uma língua a qual não dominamos (OHALA, 1996). ...
Article
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Resumo: O objetivo deste trabalho é determinar os limiares de diferenciação tonal (T'HART, 1981) do Português Brasileiro, no que se refere à entoação. Os limiares seriam pontos a partir dos quais os falantes são capazes de identificar diferenças significativas de variação tonal, levando-os a considerar aquele ponto como dotado de alguma informação linguística relevante, como uma ênfase em um vocábulo ou sílaba. Para estabelecer os limiares do Português Brasileiro, aplicamos dois experimentos de percepção com 13 pares de duas orações faladas por uma voz masculina. Os pares consistiam de uma mesma oração neutra pareada 12 vezes com ela mesma, mas com o F0 manipulado em seis semitons positivos e seis negativos, a partir dos valores originais. No Teste I, 16 participantes, sem treinamento musical, respondiam se notavam ou não qualquer diferença entre os pares apresentados. No Teste II, os mesmos 16 participantes podiam responder sim, não ou talvez, o objetivo desta última alternativa era avaliar pontos nebulosos. Para determinar os limiares de diferenciação tonal, utilizamos um modelo de análise de componentes principais, o qual retornou como limiares os valores de-3 e +4, indicando que são estes os valores do limiar de diferenciação tonal do Português Brasileiro. Palavras-chave: Fonética. Fonologia. Percepção. Entoação. Acústica.
... We started to learn speech very early, even before our first utterances. Research shows that infants start mapping critical aspects of ambient speech in the first year of life [4]. Ambient language sounds are listened to and analysed before ever understanding a word [5,6]. ...
Article
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Infant speech perception and learning is modeled using Echo State Network classification and Reinforcement Learning. Ambient speech for the modeled infant learner is created using the speech synthesizer Vocaltractlab. An auditory system is trained to recognize vowel sounds from a series of speakers of different anatomies in Vocaltractlab. Having formed perceptual targets, the infant uses Reinforcement Learning to imitate his ambient speech. A possible way of bridging the problem of speaker normalisation is proposed, using direct imitation but also including a caregiver who listens to the infants sounds and imitates those that sound vowel-like.
... Finally, mothers of TD and HH children showed a significant increase in f 0 for CDS speech (t (10) =10.0, p<10 -6 and t (21) =16.1, p<10 -12 , respectively; see Table VI). Neither TD nor HH fathers showed a difference in f 0 for CDS speech (t (10) =.39, p>.5 and t (21) =.41, p>.5, respectively; see Table VII). ...
... Research has shown strong associations between the characteristics of language input and the development of speech perception in parallel with the strong associations between phonetic perception and other language skills. The implicit learning mechanisms that operate on the probabilistic transitions and statistical distributions of the language input are fundamental to language acquisition early in life (Kuhl et al., 2001, Saffran, 2003), second language acquisition (Zhang et al., 2000, Mueller et al., 2005) and artificial grammar learning (Lieberman et al., 2004, McNealy et al., 2006). Details of phonetic interactions between L1 and L2 and links between perception and production and transfer of learning across the two domains await further research for various speech sound categories as a function of age of acquisition, input content, and length of exposure. ...
Chapter
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English as a second language (ESL) education has gained an increasingly important role in career development in science, business, and industry on the global stage. One great challenge for adult ESL learners is to reduce or eliminate “foreign accent” in their English pronunciation. Decades of behavioral and brain research have shown that language experience early in life leaves an indelible mark on speech perception and production. There is converging evidence for a self-reinforcing bonding process in the brain in the course of largely implicit learning, leading to a system that is neurally committed to the articulatory, acoustic, and perceptual properties of sounds and sound patterns in the first language. As a consequence, it is often difficult for adults to learn the speech sounds in a second language that do not conform to the phonology of the first language. This chapter examines the underlying causes for the foreign accent problem in second language learning and discusses the approaches to promote brain plasticity through phonetic training. The first section provides a summary of the main research findings to illustrate the role of phonetic knowledge in language learning, the neural mechanisms of speech perception, and the relationship between perception and production. The second section outlines a theoretical framework of brain plasticity for phonetic learning, featuring quantifiable measures to test relevant hypotheses about second language acquisition in terms of neural sensitivity, neural efficiency, neural specificity, and neural connectivity and their behavioral correlates. The third section introduces a synergistic Speech Assessment and Training (SAT) software program, to overcome first-language interference. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the implications for second-language education and future research.
... Although infant-directed speech and singing employ similar acoustic features (higher pitch, slower tempo, exaggerated intonation contours - Kuhl et al, 2001), infantdirected singing is less highly pitched (up a semitone) compared to infant-directed speech (up three to four semitones) (Trehub, op cit). ...
... In the clinical psychology, psychiatry, and neurosciences literatures, consilience has been used to better understand and integrate alcoholic behavior and neurobiology (Goldman, 2002), clinical psychology and neuroscience (Ilardi & Feldman, 2001a, 2001b, and models of language, culture, mind, and brain (Kuhl, Tsao, Liu, Zhang, & De Boer, 2001). Stress and the social environment (McEwen, 2001), development, psychobiology, and culture as applied to child and adolescent psychiatry (Munir & Beardslee, 2001), the epistemology of mental illness (Reznek, 1998), autonomic neuroscience (Robertson, 2001), and sociology and mental illness (Scheff, 1984) all have been approached now from a consilient perspective. ...
Article
The concept of consilience, that is, the fundamental unity of knowledge across disciplines, is applied to the field of psychoanalysis. Whereas practitioners in other disciplines, especially the natural sciences, strive for consilience, psychoanalysis as a discipline is found to be frequently lacking in consilience. Implications for paradigm change, metatheory, and evidence-based practice are discussed, and it is suggested that all psychoanalytic theories should be evaluated for their degree of consilience so as to make the discipline as robust and well integrated with knowledge in other disciplines as possible. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
... 1 Our phonetic focus is primarily based on developmental data and training data showing the strong associations between the characteristics of language input and the development of speech perception in parallel with the strong associations between phonetic perception and other language skills. Research suggests that the implicit learning mechanisms that operate on the probabilistic transitions and statistical distributions of the language input are fundamental to language acquisition early in life Saffran, 2003), second language acquisition (Zhang et al., 2000;Kuhl et al., 2001;Mueller et al., 2005) and artificial grammar learning (Lieberman et al., 2004;McNealy, Mazziotta and Dapretto, 2006). ...
Article
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Neural plasticity in speech acquisition and learning is concerned with the timeline trajectory and the mechanisms of experience-driven changes in the neural circuits that support or disrupt linguistic function. In this selective review, we discuss the role of phonetic learning in language acquisition, the "critical period" of learning, the agents of neural plasticity, and the distinctiveness of linguistic systems in the brain. In particular, we argue for the necessity to look at brain - behavior connections using modern brain imaging techniques, seek explanations based on measures of neural sensitivity, neural efficiency, neural specificity and neural connectivity at the cortical level, and point out some key factors that may facilitate or limit seco nd language learning. We conclude by highlighting the theoretical and practical issues for future studies and suggest ways to optimize language learning and treatment.
... Humans exhibit synchronized rhythmic firing during learning and during complex sensory processing (Caplan et al., 2001; Sobotka and Ringo, 1997). And human subjects in perceptual and conceptual studies robustly recognize objects first at categorical levels and subsequently at successively subordinate levels (Mervis and Rosch, 1981; Schlaghecken, 1998; Kuhl et al., 2001), suggesting the presence of structured memories that are hierarchically configured and sequentially traversed during recognition. ...
Article
Changes to myriad synapses throughout the brain must be coordinated every time a memory is established, and these synapses must be appropriately reactivated every time it is remembered. Once stored, memories can be recognized (when re-experiencing a learned input) or recalled (e.g., via different input, such as a name evoking memory of a face, or a scene evoking memories of an experience) by many routes. We remember what tables are as well as we remember a specific table, and we recognize objects despite seeing them from quite different angles, different lighting, different settings. Computational simulations of synaptic modifications (e.g., long term potentiation; see related entries in this volume) in distinct brain circuit architectures illustrate how these minute changes can give rise to coherent properties of memory; how analyses of different brain areas yield derivations of disparate memory functions; and how interactions among connected regions give rise to still new operating principles beyond those of their constituents. The principal anatomical designs in mammalian brain are cortical: planar arrays of neurons, arranged with their cell bodies in sheets and their apical dendrites standing in parallel. This laminar pattern contrasts with that of most reptilian brain structures, in which neurons are grouped in globular clusters ("nuclei"); an exception is the cortically organized reptilian pallium. Phylogenetic origins of the mammalian neocortex (perhaps including transformed non-pallial precursors as well as pallium) are the subject of ongoing controversy (see, e.g., Karten, 1997; Puelles, 2001). The difference is one of function, not just form. With cells arrayed in a plane, the axons providing input to the structure pass through the dendritic field making synaptic contacts randomly and sparsely. This creates a biological version of a three dimensional array or matrix in which the rows correspond to the input axons, the columns are the dendrites, and each matrix entry is a synaptic connection between an axon and dendrite (Figure 1). The neocortex undergoes vast expansion with mammalian evolution, and as the cortex comes to dominate the brain, cortical computation comes to dominate behavior. Figure 1. Characteristics of a cortical layer. Axons (horizontal lines) course through the apical dendrites of a layer of neurons making sparse, random synaptic contacts corresponding to entries in a matrix.
... It is during this period that infants show the decline in nonnative perception (Best & McRoberts, 2003; Best, McRoberts, LaFleur, & Silver-Isenstadt, 1995; Werker & Tees, 1984). More important, it is at this time that increases in infants' neural responses to native-language speech have been observed (Cheour et al., 1998; Rivera-Gaxiola, Silva-Pereyra, & Kuhl, 2005), and increases in behavioral HT measures of speech perception have been demonstrated (Kuhl et al., 2001; Tsao, 2001). Other evidence can be adduced from the fact that at 9 months, infants readily learn phonetically when exposed to a new language for the first time after only 12 exposure sessions taking place over a month's time (). ...
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In this article, we present a summary of recent research linking speech perception in infancy to later language development, as well as a new empirical study examin-ing that linkage. Infant phonetic discrimination is initially language universal, but a decline in phonetic discrimination occurs for nonnative phonemes by the end of the 1st year. Exploiting this transition in phonetic perception between 6 and 12 months of age, we tested the hypothesis that the decline in nonnative phonetic dis-crimination is associated with native-language phonetic learning. Using a standard behavioral measure of speech discrimination in infants at 7 months and measures of their language abilities at 14, 18, 24, and 30 months, we show (a) a negative cor-relation between infants' early native and nonnative phonetic discrimination skills and (b) that native-and nonnative-phonetic discrimination skills at 7 months differ-entially predict future language ability. Better native-language discrimination at 7 months predicts accelerated later language abilities, whereas better nonnative-lan-guage discrimination at 7 months predicts reduced later language abilities. The dis-cussion focuses on (a) the theoretical connection between speech perception and language development and (b) the implications of these findings for the putative "critical period" for phonetic learning. Work in my laboratory has recently been focused on two fundamental questions and their theoretical intersect. The first is the role that infant speech perception plays in the acquisition of language. The second is whether early speech percep-tion can reveal the mechanism underlying the putative "critical period" in language acquisition.
... In addition to conflicting results on consonant contrasts, behavioral findings have suggested a somewhat earlier timeline (e.g., 6-8 months) for vowel discrimination (Kuhl et al., 1992;Polka and Werker, 1994). Thus, one way to conceptualize perceptual narrowing is to view experience with a native language as sharpening the boundaries between native contrasts (Aslin and Pisoni, 1980;Kuhl et al., 2001;Polka et al., 2001). Furthermore, recent work by Narayan et al. (2010) has uncovered evidence that some phoneme contrasts are not available "pre-tuning," 1 while others (even non-native) remain available after tuning should (arguably) have ended (i.e., after 8 months). ...
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Little is known about the neural mechanisms that underlie tuning to the native language(s) in early infancy. Here we review language tuning through the lens of type and amount of language experience and introduce a new manner in which to conceptualize the phenomenon of language tuning: the relative speed of tuning hypothesis. This hypothesis has as its goal a characterization of the unique time course of the tuning process, given the different components (e.g., phonology, prosody, syntax, semantics) of one or more languages as they become available to infants, and biologically based maturational constraints. In this review, we first examine the established behavioral findings and integrate more recent neurophysiological data on neonatal development, which together demonstrate evidence of early language tuning given differential language exposure even in utero. Next, we examine traditional accounts of sensitive and critical periods to determine how these constructs complement current data on the neural mechanisms underlying language tuning. We then synthesize the extant infant behavioral and neurophysiological data on monolingual, bilingual, and sensory deprived tuning, thereby scrutinizing the effect of these three different language profiles on the specific timing, progression, and outcome of language tuning. Finally, we discuss future directions researchers might pursue to further understand this aspect of language development, advocating our relative speed of tuning hypothesis as a useful framework for conceptualizing the complex process by which language experience works together with biological constraints to shape language development.
... As a result of native language experience (or "tuning"), however, the ability to distinguish nonnative phonetic contrasts dramatically declines as early as 6 months (Kuhl and Rivera-Gaxiola, 2008;Kuhl et al., 2006;Werker and Tees, 1992). By 11 months of age, Japanese infants can no longer distinguish /ra/ from /la/, and American infants cannot distinguish Chinese sounds /chi/ and /ci/ (Kuhl et al., 2001). English speakers cannot identify Hindi phonetic contrasts that differ in voice onset time from −90 to 0 ms (Sharma and Dorman, 2000). ...
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... om research on language, unlike those from research on other aspects of cognitive and behavioral development, cover a wider range of levels and time scales. Converging evidence with respect to sociocultural influences on, and expressed through, language development and processing at most levels and on different time scales recently has emerged (cf. Kuhl, Tsao, Liu, Zhang, & de Boer, 2001). In this section, I thus give examples involving language to focally illustrate that the various interactive processes and developmental plasticity at different levels as outlined in the cross-level dynamic biocultural coconstructive framework are tightly related with each other, unfolding across the time scales of human phylogeny, ind ...
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The author reviews reemerging coconstructive conceptions of development and recent empirical findings of developmental plasticity at different levels spanning several fields of developmental and life sciences. A cross-level dynamic biocultural coconstructive framework is endorsed to understand cognitive and behavioral development across the life span. This framework integrates main conceptions of earlier views into a unifying frame, viewing the dynamics of life span development as occurring simultaneously within different time scales (i.e., moment-to-moment microgenesis, life span ontogeny, and human phylogeny) and encompassing multiple levels (i.e., neurobiological, cognitive, behavioral, and sociocultural). Viewed through this metatheoretical framework, new insights of potential interfaces for reciprocal cultural and experiential influences to be integrated with behavioral genetics and cognitive neuroscience research can be more easily prescribed.
... Intriguingly, anterior cortical areas (as opposed to sensory regions) exhibit more activity during categorization than recognition. Human subjects robustly recognize objects first at "basic" categorical levels (e.g., bird, screwdriver) and subsequently at successively subordinate levels (sparrow, Phillips screwdriver) (Mervis, 1981;Schlaghecken, 1998;Kuhl, 2001). Experts (e.g., birdwatchers) exhibit faster recognition of objects in their areas of expertise, suggesting the learning of corresponding idiosyncratic "basic" or "entry" levels of recognition. ...
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Shared anatomical and physiological features of primary, secondary, tertiary, polysensory, and associational neocortical areas are used to formulate a novel extended hypothesis of thalamocortical circuit operation. A simplified anatomically based model of topographically and nontopographically projecting ("core" and "matrix") thalamic nuclei, and their differential connections with superficial, middle, and deep neocortical laminae, is described. Synapses in the model are activated and potentiated according to physiologically based rules. Features incorporated into the models include differential time courses of excitatory versus inhibitory postsynaptic potentials, differential axonal arborization of pyramidal cells versus interneurons, and different laminar afferent and projection patterns. Observation of the model's responses to static and time-varying inputs indicates that topographic "core" circuits operate to organize stored memories into natural similarity-based hierarchies, whereas diffuse "matrix" circuits give rise to efficient storage of time-varying input into retrievable sequence chains. Examination of these operations shows their relationships with well-studied algorithms for related functions, including categorization via hierarchical clustering, and sequential storage via hash- or scatter-storage. Analysis demonstrates that the derived thalamocortical algorithms exhibit desirable efficiency, scaling, and space and time cost characteristics. Implications of the hypotheses for central issues of perceptual reaction times and memory capacity are discussed. It is conjectured that the derived functions are fundamental building blocks recurrent throughout the neocortex, which, through combination, gives rise to powerful perceptual, motor, and cognitive mechanisms.
... Although it is possible that Japanese listeners might not be able to ignore the /r-l/ stimuli as easily as Americans, our design allowed a minimization of the attentional influences on the observed cross-linguistic differences. We argue that language experience results in neural networks dedicated to the automatic processing of native-language acoustic information and that this gives native speakers an advantage in processing efficiency (Guenther et al., 2004;Kuhl, 2004;Kuhl et al., 2001). In the absence of neural networks dedicated to the properties of the incoming sounds, brain activation is not as focal and requires a longer processing time. ...
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Linguistic experience alters an individual's perception of speech. We here provide evidence of the effects of language experience at the neural level from two magnetoencephalography (MEG) studies that compare adult American and Japanese listeners' phonetic processing. The experimental stimuli were American English /ra/ and /la/ syllables, phonemic in English but not in Japanese. In Experiment 1, the control stimuli were /ba/ and /wa/ syllables, phonemic in both languages; in Experiment 2, they were non-speech replicas of /ra/ and /la/. The behavioral and neuromagnetic results showed that Japanese listeners were less sensitive to the phonemic /r-l/ difference than American listeners. Furthermore, processing non-native speech sounds recruited significantly greater brain resources in both hemispheres and required a significantly longer period of brain activation in two regions, the superior temporal area and the inferior parietal area. The control stimuli showed no significant differences except that the duration effect in the superior temporal cortex also applied to the non-speech replicas. We argue that early exposure to a particular language produces a "neural commitment" to the acoustic properties of that language and that this neural commitment interferes with foreign language processing, making it less efficient.
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From birth to 15 months infants and caregivers form a fundamentally intersubjective, dyadic unit within which the infant’s ability to recognize gender/sex in the world develops. Between about 18 and 36 months the infant accumulates an increasingly clear and subjective sense of self as female or male. We know little about how the precursors to gender/sex identity form during the intersubjective period, nor how they transform into an independent sense of self by 3 years of age. In this Theory and Hypothesis article I offer a general framework for thinking about this problem. I propose that through repetition and patterning, the dyadic interactions in which infants and caregivers engage imbue the infant with an embodied, i.e., sensori-motor understanding of gender/sex. During this developmental period (which I label Phase 1) gender/sex is primarily an intersubjective project. From 15 to 18 months (which I label Phase 2) there are few reports of newly appearing gender/sex behavioral differences, and I hypothesize that this absence reflects a period of developmental instability during which there is a transition from gender/sex as primarily inter-subjective to gender/sex as primarily subjective. Beginning at 18 months (i.e., the start of Phase 3), a toddler’s subjective sense of self as having a gender/sex emerges, and it solidifies by 3 years of age. I propose a dynamic systems perspective to track how infants first assimilate gender/sex information during the intersubjective period (birth to 15 months); then explore what changes might occur during a hypothesized phase transition (15 to 18 months), and finally, review the emergence and initial stabilization of individual subjectivity-the period from 18 to 36 months. The critical questions explored focus on how to model and translate data from very different experimental disciplines, especially neuroscience, physiology, developmental psychology and cognitive development. I close by proposing the formation of a research consortium on gender/sex development during the first 3 years after birth.
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Infants as young as 2 months can integrate audio and visual aspects of speech articulation. A shift of attention from the eyes towards the mouth of talking faces occurs around 6 months of age in monolingual infants. However, it is unknown whether this pattern of attention during audiovisual speech processing is influenced by speech and language experience in infancy. The present study investigated this question by analysing audiovisual speech processing in three groups of 4‐ to 8‐month‐old infants who differed in their language experience: monolinguals, unimodal bilinguals (infants exposed to two or more spoken languages) and bimodal bilinguals (hearing infants with Deaf mothers). Eye‐tracking was used to study patterns of face scanning while infants were viewing faces articulating syllables with congruent, incongruent and silent auditory tracks. Monolinguals and unimodal bilinguals increased their attention to the mouth of talking faces between 4 and 8 months, while bimodal bilinguals did not show any age difference in their scanning patterns. Moreover, older (6.6 to 8 months), but not younger, monolinguals (4 to 6.5 months) showed increased visual attention to the mouth of faces articulating audiovisually incongruent rather than congruent faces, indicating surprise or novelty. In contrast, no audiovisual congruency effect was found in unimodal or bimodal bilinguals. Results suggest that speech and language experience influences audiovisual integration in infancy. Specifically, reduced or more variable experience of audiovisual speech from the primary caregiver may lead to less sensitivity to the integration of audio and visual cues of speech articulation.
Chapter
This chapter addresses sensation and perception of pitch mainly from a functional perspective. Anatomical and physiological facts concerning the auditory pathway are provided to the extent necessary to understand excitation processes resulting from sound energy in the middle ear as well as within the cochlea. Place coding and temporal coding of sound features is viewed in regard to frequency and period as two parameters relevant for pitch perception. The Wiener–Khintchine theorem is taken as a basis to explain the correspondence between temporal periodicity and spectral harmonicity as two principles fundamental to perception of pitch and timbre. The basics of some models of the auditory periphery suited to extracting pitch from complex sounds either in the time or in the frequency domain will be outlined along with examples demonstrating how such models work for certain sounds. Sections of this chapter also address tone height and tonal quality as components of pitch as well as the rather dubious nature of the so-called tone chroma. Issues such as isolating tone quality from height (as in Shepard tones) and an alleged preference of subjects for stretched octaves are covered in a critical assessment. A subchapter on psychophysics includes just-noticeable difference (JND ) and difference limen (DL ) for pitch, the concept of auditory filters known as critical bands, the sensation of roughness and dissonance as well as special pitch phenomena (the residue and the missing fundamental, the concept of virtual pitch, combination tones). Another section covers spectral fusion, Stumpf's concept of Verschmelzung, and the sensation of consonance. Further, there are sections on categorical pitch perception as well as on absolute and relative pitch followed by a brief survey of scale types, tone systems and intonation. The chapter closes with a section on geometric pitch models and some basic features of tonality in music.
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The period between six and 12 months is a sensitive period for language learning during which infants undergo auditory perceptual attunement, and recent results indicate that this sensitive period may exist across sensory modalities. We tested infants at three stages of perceptual attunement (six, nine, and 11 months) to determine (1) whether they were sensitive to the congruence between heard and seen speech stimuli in an unfamiliar language, and (2) whether familiarization with congruent audiovisual speech could boost subsequent non-native auditory discrimination. Infants at six- and nine-, but not 11- months, detected audiovisual congruence of non-native syllables. Familiarization to incongruent, but not congruent, audiovisual speech changed auditory discrimination at test for six-month-olds but not nine- or 11-month-olds. These results advance the proposal that speech perception is audiovisual from early in ontogeny, and that the sensitive period for audiovisual speech perception may last somewhat longer than that for auditory perception alone.
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This paper revisits group difference and individual variability in birth weight, head size, Apgar score, and motor performance in neonatal and 8-month-old males and females using a large existing data set. The goal is primarily theoretical-to reframe existing analyses with an eye toward designing and executing more predictive analyses in the future. 3D graphing to visualize both the areas of overlap and regions of disparity between boys and girls has been used. A two-step cluster analysis of boys and girls together revealed three clusters. One was almost equally divided between boys and girls, but a second was highly enriched for boys and the third highly skewed toward girls. The relationship between cluster membership and Bayley motor scores at 8 months tested the hypothesis that initial differences that have no sex-related behavioral content might start processes that produce later sex-related differences. Initially, parental belief systems may be less important than infant care patterns evoked by basic size and health characteristics, even though later parental behaviors assume a decidedly gendered pattern. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 9999: 1-12, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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The present study tested Japanese 4.5- and 10-month old infants' ability to discriminate three German vowel pairs, none of which are contrastive in Japanese, using a visual habituation-dishabituation paradigm. Japanese adults' discrimination of the same pairs was also tested. The results revealed that Japanese 4.5-month old infants discriminated the German /bu:k/-/by:k/ contrast, but they showed no evidence of discriminating the /bi:k/-/be:k/ or /bu:k/-/bo:k/ contrasts. Japanese 10-month old infants, on the other hand, discriminated the German /bi:k/-/be:k/ contrast, while they showed no evidence of discriminating the /bu:k/-/by:k/ or /bu:k/-/bo:k/ contrasts. Japanese adults, in contrast, were highly accurate in their discrimination of all of the pairs. The results indicate that discrimination of non-native contrasts is not always easy even for young infants, and that their ability to discriminate non-native contrasts can improve with age even when they receive no exposure to a language in which the given contrast is phonemic. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol.
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The English /l-r/ distinction is difficult to learn for some second language learners as well as for native-speaking children. This study examines the use of the second (F2) and third (F3) formants in the production and perception of /l/ and /r/ sounds in 4-, 4.5-, 5.5-, and 8.5-yr-old English-speaking children. The children were tested with elicitation and repetition tasks as well as word recognition tasks. The results indicate that whereas young children's /l/ and /r/ in both production and perception show fairly high accuracy and were well defined along the primary acoustic parameter that differentiates them, F3 frequency, these children were still developing in regard to the integration of the secondary cue, F2 frequency. The pattern of development is consistent with the distribution of these features in the ambient input relative to the /l/ and /r/ category distinction: F3 is robust and reliable, whereas F2 is less reliable in distinguishing /l/ and /r/. With delayed development of F2, cue weighting of F3 and F2 for the English /l-r/ categorization seems to continue to develop beyond 8 or 9 yr of age. These data are consistent with a rather long trajectory of phonetic development whereby native categories are refined and tuned well into childhood.
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Birdsong, like speech, is a learned behaviour whose critical function is to communicate with others and whose development critically depends on social influences. Song learning is a complex phenomenon that involves not only the development of species-specific vocalisations, but also the development of the ability to organise these vocalisations and to use them in an appropriate context. Although the fact that interactions with adult experienced models are essential for song production to develop properly has been well established, far less is known about song perception and processing. The fact that songbirds learn to vocalise and to use their vocalisations selectively through interactions with adults questions whether such interactions are also required for songbirds to perceive and process their vocalisations selectively and whether social interactions may shape song perception and processing as they shape song production. In order to address these questions, our team uses an original neuroethological approach to study the neural bases of song behaviour in a highly social songbird species: the European starlings. We provide here a synthesis of the results we have obtained using this approach over the last decade. Our results show that direct social experience with adult experienced models not only shapes song behaviour but also shapes these songbirds' brains and their ability to perceive and to process acoustic signals whose communicative value, as well as their acoustic structure, have to be learned.
Infants come into the world prepared to process and respond to sound. However, at birth their hearing is immature in several ways. Some aspects of hearing such as frequency and temporal resolution mature by 6 months postnatal age. Other aspects of hearing such as absolute sensitivity, intensity resolution, and complex sound processing continue to develop throughout infancy and well into childhood. Development during the early postnatal period likely results from maturation of relatively low-level neural processing. The final stages of auditory development depend on the maturation of higher-level processes such as selective attention.
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As libraries become increasingly based on digital storage and~access technologies, knowledge management approaches seem particularly useful. Most knowledge management systems emphasize the role of information and communications technologies, and the question arises about the role of librarians in these systems. This paper posits that if globally digital libraries are to realize their potential for providing access to the widest feasible range of knowledge, librarians and information officers need to fulfill a challenging and critical role as boundary spanners across cultures. This paper is based on evidence that knowledge is culturally derived, acquired, and applied, and that learning —the acquisition of new knowledge—is enabled by skills that are culturally dependent. This aspect of knowledge suggests that the tacit dimension of knowledge and learning may require humans to aid in spanning the boundaries across different knowledge domains and different cultures. This paper has three components. First, it reviews what is becoming known about learning and how this relates to knowledge creation and knowledge transfer. Second, it reviews a boundary spanning model proposed by Carlile, comprised of three levels—syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic—and applies this model to learning across cultures. Finally, the paper discusses the implications of such a model of knowledge for libraries that seek to serve as global resources for multiple cultures. For digital libraries, new skills and approaches may be required for the pragmatic category
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The Japanese language has single/geminate obstruents characterized by durational difference in closure/frication as part of the phonemic repertoire used to distinguish word meanings. We first evaluated infants' abilities to discriminate naturally uttered single/geminate obstruents (/pata/ and /patta/) using the visual habituation-dishabituation method. The results revealed that 9.5-month-old Japanese infants were able to make this discrimination, t(21) = 2.119, p = .046, paired t test, whereas 4-month-olds were not, t(25) = 0.395, p = .696, paired t test. To examine how acoustic correlates (covarying cues) are associated with the contrast discrimination, we tested Japanese infants at 9.5 and 11.5 months of age with 3 combinations of natural and manipulated stimuli. The 11.5-month-olds were able to discriminate the naturally uttered pair (/pata/ vs. /patta/), t(20) = 4.680, p < .000, paired t test. Neither group discriminated the natural /patta/ from the manipulated /pata/ created from natural /patta/ tokens: For 9.5-month-olds, t(23) = 0.754, p = .458; for 11.5-month-olds, t(27) = 0.789, p = .437, paired t tests. Only the 11.5-month-olds discriminated the natural /pata/ and the manipulated /patta/ created from /pata/ tokens: For 9.5-month-olds, t(24) = 0.114, p = .910; for 11.5-month-olds, t(23) = 2.244, p = .035, paired t tests. These results suggest that Japanese infants acquire a sensitivity to contrasts of single/geminate obstruents by 9.5 months of age and that certain cues that covary with closure length either facilitate or interfere with contrast discrimination under particular conditions.
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Although a deficit perceiving phonemes, as indexed by the mismatch negativity (MMN), is apparent in developmental dyslexia (DD), studies have not yet addressed whether this deficit might be a result of deficient native language speech representations. The present study examines how a native-vowel prototype and an atypical vowel are discriminated by 9-year-old children with (n = 14) and without (n = 12) DD. MMN was elicited in all conditions in both groups. The control group revealed enhanced MMN to the native-vowel prototype in comparison to the atypical vowel. Children with DD did not show enhanced MMN amplitude to the native-vowel prototype, suggesting impaired tuning to native language speech representations. Furthermore, higher MMN amplitudes to the native-vowel prototype correlated with more advanced reading (r = - .47) and spelling skills (r = - .52).
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Despite significant advances in the field of social neuroscience, much remains to be understood regarding the development and maintenance of social skills across the life span. Few comprehensive models exist that integrate multidisciplinary perspectives and explain the multitude of factors that influence the emergence and expression of social skills. Here, a developmental biopsychosocial model (SOCIAL) is offered that incorporates the biological underpinnings and socio-cognitive skills that underlie social function (attention/executive function, communication, socio-emotional skills), as well as the internal and external (environmental) factors that mediate these skills. The components of the model are discussed in the context of the social brain network and are supported by evidence from 3 conditions known to affect social functioning (autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, and traumatic brain injury). This integrative model is intended to provide a theoretical structure for understanding the origins of social dysfunction and the factors that influence the emergence of social skills through childhood and adolescence in both healthy and clinical populations.
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Japanese has a vowel duration contrast as one component of its language-specific phonemic repertory to distinguish word meanings. It is not clear, however, how a sensitivity to vowel duration can develop in a linguistic context. In the present study, using the visual habituation-dishabituation method, the authors evaluated infants' abilities to discriminate Japanese long and short vowels embedded in two-syllable words (/mana/ vs. /ma:na/). The results revealed that 4-month-old Japanese infants (n = 32) failed to discriminate the contrast (p = .676), whereas 9.5-month-olds (n = 33) showed the discrimination ability (p = .014). The 7.5-month-olds did not show positive evidence to discriminate the contrast either when the edited stimuli were used (n = 33; p = .275) or when naturally uttered stimuli were used (n = 33; p = .189). By contrast, the 4-month-olds (n = 24) showed sensitivity to a vowel quality change (/mana/ vs. /mina/; p = .034). These results indicate that Japanese infants acquire sensitivity to long-short vowel contrasts between 7.5 and 9.5 months of age and that the developmental course of the phonemic category by the durational changes is different from that by the quality change.
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Newborns are equipped with a large phonemic inventory that becomes tuned to one's native language early in life. We review and add new data about how learning of a non-native phoneme can be accomplished in adults and how the efficiency of word learning can be assessed by neurophysiological measures. For this purpose, we studied the acquisition of the voiceless, bilabial fricative /Phi/ via a statistical-learning paradigm. Phonemes were embedded in minimal pairs of pseudowords, differing only with respect to the fricative (/aPhio/ versus /afo/). During learning, pseudowords were combined with pictures of objects with some combinations of pseudowords and pictures occurring more frequently than others. Behavioural data and the N400m component, as an index of lexical activation/semantic access, showed that participants had learned to associate the pseudowords with the pictures. However, they could not discriminate within the minimal pairs. Importantly, before learning, the novel words with the sound /Phi/ showed smaller N400 amplitudes than those with native phonemes, evidencing their non-word status. Learning abolished this difference indicating that /Phi/ had become integrated into the native category /f/, instead of establishing a novel category. Our data and review demonstrate that native phonemic categories are powerful attractors hampering the mastery of non-native contrasts.
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O presente trabalho tem como objeto a análise prosódica comparada entre leitura em voz alta e fala espontânea, tendo em vista a hipótese de que se os aspectos prosódicos característicos da fala não estão presentes em grande parte das manifestações materiais da linguagem, na leitura de textos em voz alta, o leitor tem de, necessariamente, criar a prosódia para o texto a partir de suas hipóteses, seguindo princípios específicos, especialmente no que diz respeito à variação de freqüência. A partir de um procedimento estabelecido de análise automáticas, as análises realizadas apontaram que a variação da freqüência nos textos lidos é mais aguda do que a da fala espontânea e que a relação entre a freqüência média e a freqüência final na leitura aproxima-se mais da relação entre tom dominante e tom fundamental da escala diatônica ocidental, estabelecendo uma cadência harmônica perfeita para a finalização das frases. Esses resultados apontam para a associação das intuições do leitor às suas formas prosódicas prototípicas definidas no período de aquisição da linguagem.
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The present study used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to examine perceptual learning of American English /r/ and /l/ categories by Japanese adults who had limited English exposure. A training software program was developed based on the principles of infant phonetic learning, featuring systematic acoustic exaggeration, multi-talker variability, visible articulation, and adaptive listening. The program was designed to help Japanese listeners utilize an acoustic dimension relevant for phonemic categorization of /r-l/ in English. Although training did not produce native-like phonetic boundary along the /r-l/ synthetic continuum in the second language learners, success was seen in highly significant identification improvement over twelve training sessions and transfer of learning to novel stimuli. Consistent with behavioral results, pre-post MEG measures showed not only enhanced neural sensitivity to the /r-l/ distinction in the left-hemisphere mismatch field (MMF) response but also bilateral decreases in equivalent current dipole (ECD) cluster and duration measures for stimulus coding in the inferior parietal region. The learning-induced increases in neural sensitivity and efficiency were also found in distributed source analysis using Minimum Current Estimates (MCE). Furthermore, the pre-post changes exhibited significant brain-behavior correlations between speech discrimination scores and MMF amplitudes as well as between the behavioral scores and ECD measures of neural efficiency. Together, the data provide corroborating evidence that substantial neural plasticity for second-language learning in adulthood can be induced with adaptive and enriched linguistic exposure. Like the MMF, the ECD cluster and duration measures are sensitive neural markers of phonetic learning.
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To obtain a more precise understanding of the mechanisms involved in language acquisition in healthy subjects and the re-acquisition of language following brain damage, we developed a word learning model which can be used in behavioral and functional-imaging studies. We generated a set of spoken pseudowords, which were normalized with respect to duration and loudness, and (based on a rating study with 40 students) selected 50 pseudowords, which yielded few associations with existing words and were of neutral emotional valence. The selected pseudowords were paired with object drawings in a pseudo-randomized manner and each subject received a different combination of pairings. These auditory-visual pairs were used to train ten subjects solely on the basis of different frequencies of 'correct' and 'incorrect' pairings. This procedure resembles the acquisition of the first words during childhood. During a five-session training protocol, with one session per day, there was a linear increase of the learning curves, which then reached a plateau. Learning remained stable at 1 and 4 weeks retest intervals. Furthermore, subjects correctly translated the pseudowords into their native language, demonstrating the acquisition of word meanings. These findings indicate that the described associative learning program meets the requirements for a robust and ecologically meaningful model to study the neural mechanisms of language learning and plasticity.
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Infants learn language with remarkable speed, but how they do it remains a mystery. New data show that infants use computational strategies to detect the statistical and prosodic patterns in language input, and that this leads to the discovery of phonemes and words. Social interaction with another human being affects speech learning in a way that resembles communicative learning in songbirds. The brain's commitment to the statistical and prosodic patterns that are experienced early in life might help to explain the long-standing puzzle of why infants are better language learners than adults. Successful learning by infants, as well as constraints on that learning, are changing theories of language acquisition.
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This study assessed the replicability of the ‘‘perceptual magnet effect (PME)’’ [Kuhl, Percept. Psychophys. 50, 93–107 (1991)] and investigated underlying neurophysiologic processes using the mismatch negativity (MMN) evoked potential. A stimulus continuum from /i/–/e/ was synthesized by varying F1 and F2 in equal mel steps. Subjects categorized, rated the goodness of stimuli, and discriminated between stimulus pairs. Results revealed that Kuhl’s prototype was identified and rated as a good (albeit, not the best) exemplar of /i/, whereas, Kuhl’s nonprototype (NP) was identified as /i/ only 20% of the time, and therefore, was not a suitable NP. In this study, the prototype was the stimulus with the lowest F1 and highest F2 values and the NP was close to the category boundary. Discrimination accuracy was not significantly different in the prototype and NP conditions. That is, no perceptual magnet effect was observed. Furthermore, despite equal mel differences between the stimulus pairs, the MMN was largest for the pair with lowest F1 and highest F2 values. Therefore, the MMN appears to be sensitive to within category acoustic differences. The behavioral and electrophysiologic results indicate that discrimination of stimuli near a prototype is based on the auditory structure of those stimuli.
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The pilot study shows strong effects of language experience in behavioral and MEG results. A full report is shown in Zhang et al. (2005). Effects of language experience: neural commitment to language-specific auditory patterns. Neuroimage, 26(3), 703-720.
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Cerebral activation was measured with positron emission tomography in ten human volunteers. The primary auditory cortex showed increased activity in response to noise bursts, whereas acoustically matched speech syllables activated secondary auditory cortices bilaterally. Instructions to make judgments about different attributes of the same speech signal resulted in activation of specific lateralized neural systems. Discrimination of phonetic structure led to increased activity in part of Broca's area of the left hemisphere, suggesting a role for articulatory recoding in phonetic perception. Processing changes in pitch produced activation of the right prefrontal cortex, consistent with the importance of right-hemisphere mechanisms in pitch perception.
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Theoretical considerations and diverse empirical data from clinical, psycholinguistic, and developmental studies suggest that language comprehension processes are decomposable into separate subsystems, including distinct systems for semantic and grammatical processing. Here we report that event-related potentials (ERPs) to syntactically well-formed but semantically anomalous sentences produced a pattern of brain activity that is distinct in timing and distribution from the patterns elicited by syntactically deviant sentences, and further, that different types of syntactic deviance produced distinct ERP patterns. Forty right-handed young adults read sentences presented at 2 words/sec while ERPs were recorded from over several positions between and within the hemispheres. Half of the sentences were semantically and grammatically acceptable and were controls for the remainder, which contained sentence medial words that violated (1) semantic expectations, (2) phrase structure rules, or (3) WH-movement constraints on Specificity and (4) Subjacency. As in prior research, the semantic anomalies produced a negative potential, N400, that was bilaterally distributed and was largest over posterior regions. The phrase structure violations enhanced the N125 response over anterior regions of the left hemisphere, and elicited a negative response (300-500 msec) over temporal and parietal regions of the left hemisphere. Violations of Specificity constraints produced a slow negative potential, evident by 125 msec, that was also largest over anterior regions of the left hemisphere. Violations of Subjacency constraints elicited a broadly and symmetrically distributed positivity that onset around 200 msec. The distinct timing and distribution of these effects provide biological support for theories that distinguish between these types of grammatical rules and constraints and more generally for the proposal that semantic and grammatical processes are distinct subsystems within the language faculty.
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In an attempt to clearly differentiate perceptual effects that are attributable to ’’auditory’’ and ’’phonetic’’ levels of processing in speech perception we have undertaken a series of experiments with animal listeners. Four chinchillas (C h i n c h i l l a l a n i g e r) were trained to respond differently to the ’’endpoints’’ of a synthetic alveolar speech continuum (0 ms VOT and +80 ms VOT) and were then tested in a generalization paradigm with the VOT stimuli between these endpoints. The resulting identification functions were nearly identical to those obtained with adult English‐speaking listeners. To test the generality of this agreement, the animals were then tested with synthetic stimuli that had labial and velar places of articulation. As a whole, the functions produced by the two species were very similar; the same relative locations of the phonetic boundaries, with lowest VOT boundaries for labial stimuli and highest for velar stimuli, were obtained for each animal and human subject. No significant differences between species on the absolute values of the phonetic boundaries were obtained, but chinchillas produced identification functions that were slightly, but significantly, less steep. These results are discussed with regard to theories of speech perception, the evolution of a speech‐sound repertoire, and current interpretations of the human infant’s perceptual proclivities with regard to speech‐sound perception.
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The contribution of anthropology to the study of pre- and perinatal development is largely derived from the concept of culture. This concept is useful in the study of child language acquisition (LA), since it necessitates a description of the ways that caretakers conceptualize their interactions with prelinguistic and language-acquiring children. Facilitative roles of parental speech are foregrounded, and meaning systems are made visible, rather than being overlooked or assumed. Illustrations are provided from comparative studies of English, American, Spanish, Luo, Samoan, and Quiche Mayan children. Parental speech may play a role in LA by creating the behavioral framework and context out of which LA emerges. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Chapter
Children's aquisition of language and their acquisition of culture are processes that have usually been studied separately. In exploring cross-culturally the connections between the two, this volume provides a new, alternative, integrated approach to the developmental study of language and culture. The volume focuses on the ways in which children are both socialized through language and socialized to use language in culturally specific ways. The contributors examine the verbal interactions of small children with their caregivers and peers in several different societies around the world, showing that these interactions are socially and culturally organized, and that it is by participating in them that children come to understand sociocultural orientations. They emphasize the salient language behaviours of children and others, and show how these are embedded in broader patterns of social behaviour and cultural knowledge. They reveal that various features of discourse - phonological, morpho-syntactic, lexical, pragmatic, and conversational - carry sociocultural information, and that language in use is a major resource for conveying and displaying socio-cultural knowledge. As children acquire language, so they are also acquiring a world view. This innovative approach to the study of language acquisition and socialization will appeal widely to anthropologists, linguists, psychologists, specialists in communication studies, and educationists.
Chapter
This chapter discusses the hemispheric asymmetry in processing of dichotically presented speech and nonspeech stimuli by infants. It presents the view that hemispheric asymmetry takes several years to develop and suggest that it is present in early infancy, possibly even at birth. The results of the study reviewed in the chapter indicates that infants between the ages of 22 and 140 days displayed the typical adult pattern of lateral asymmetry for dichotically presented speech and nonspeech stimuli. Functional asymmetries thus appear to be present at a very early age, possibly even at birth. The equipotentiality of the infant brain, whereby one side can readily take over the functions of the other, must be attributed to plasticity, rather than to a lack of hemispheric specialization. In the development of functional hemispheric asymmetry, the prospective significance of each hemisphere might be to mediate specific functions—in most persons this means, for instance, that the prospective significance of the left hemisphere is to be responsible for verbal skills. In the event of injury to one hemisphere, the intact hemisphere may have the prospective potency to mediate functions normally subserved by the damaged region, provided that the damage occurs prior to determination that is before prospective significance has been achieved.
Book
This volume contains the proceedings of a NATO Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) on the topic of "Changes in Speech and Face Processing in Infancy: A glimpse at Developmental Mechanisms of Cognition", which was held in Carry-Ie-Rouet (France) at the Vacanciel "La Calanque", from June 29 to July 3, 1992. For many years, developmental researchers have been systematically exploring what is concealed by the blooming and buzzing confusion (as William James described the infant's world). Much research has been carried out on the mechanisms by which organisms recognize and relate to their conspecifics, in particular with respect to language acquisition and face recognition. Given this background, it seems worthwhile to compare not only the conceptual advances made in these two domains, but also the methodological difficulties faced in each of them. In both domains, there is evidence of sophisticated abilities right from birth. Similarly, researchers in these domains have focused on whether the mechanisms underlying these early competences are modality-specific, object­ specific or otherwise.
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Previous work in which we compared English infants, English adults, and Hindi adults on their ability to discriminate two pairs of Hindi (non-English) speech contrasts has indicated that infants discriminate speech sounds according to phonetic category without prior specific language experience (Werker, Gilbert, Humphrey, & Tees, 1981), whereas adults and children as young as age 4 (Werker & Tees, in press), may lose this ability as a function of age and or linguistic experience. The present work was designed to (a) determine the generalizability of such a decline by comparing adult English, adult Salish, and English infant subjects on their perception of a new non-English (Salish) speech contrast, and (b) delineate the time course of the developmental decline in this ability. The results of these experiments replicate our original findings by showing that infants can discriminate non-native speech contrasts without relevant experience, and that there is a decline in this ability during ontogeny. Furthermore, data from both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies shows that this decline occurs within the first year of life, and that it is a function of specific language experience. © 2002 Published by Elsevier Science Inc.
Article
The prosodic features of maternal speech addressed to 2-month-old infants were measured quantitatively in a tonal language, Mandarin Chinese, to determine whether the features are similar to those observed in nontonal languages such as English and German. Speech samples were recorded when 8 Mandarin-speaking mothers addressed an adult and their own infants. Eight prosodic features were measured by computer: fundamental frequency (pitch), frequency range per sample, frequency range per phrase, phrase duration, pause duration, number of phrases per sample, number of syllables per phrase, and the proportion of phrase time as opposed to pause time per sample. Results showed that fundamental frequency was significantly higher and exhibited a larger range over the entire sample as well as a larger range per phrase in infant-directed as opposed to adult-directed speech. Durational analyses indicated significantly shorter utterances and longer pauses in infant-directed speech. Significantly fewer phrases per sample, fewer syllables per phrase, and less phrase-time per sample occurred in infant-directed speech. This pattern of results for Mandarin motherese is similar to that reported in other languages and suggests that motherese may exhibit universal prosodic features.
Chapter
Deficits in prosody have been consistently described as an integral part of the speech and language disorder in autistic children (Kanner, 1946; Ornitz & Ritvo, 1976). Such deficits still remain evident in the language characteristics of children whose speech showed considerable improvement over time (DeMyer, Barton, DeMyer, Norton, Allen, and Steele, 1973; Rutter & Lockyer, 1967; Baltaxe & Simmons, 1983). However, there is still a paucity of research investigating the deficits in this important aspect of speech and language. The present review is an effort to summarize prosodic studies in autism and to consider the findings to date in terms of what is known about prosody in normal language acquisition and in language pathology. Finally, we will present some speculation on how the prosodic deficits might fit into the general picture of the autistic language disturbance and brain dysfunction.
Article
The onset of a noise [0.9–2.1 kHz, 55 dB SPL (A weighted)] preceded that of a buzz [100 Hz, 0.5–3.0 kHz, 70 db SPL (A weighted), 500 msec] by −10 to +80 msec and both terminated simultaneously. Eight adults discriminated among noise‐lead times in an oddity task. In separate sessions, they labeled singly presented stimuli with either of the two responses: ’’no noise’’ or ’’noise.’’ The results are highly similar to those reported for the categorical perception of synthetic plosive consonants differing in voice‐onset time. On the average, discrimination was best across a noise‐lead‐time boundary of about 16 msec, where labeling also shifted abruptly. These results and those of categorical perception, generally, are interpreted in terms of Weber’s law as applied to a single component within a stimulus complex. It is concluded that categorical perception of sounds is not unique to speech and suggested that it may be a general property of sensory behavior. Subject Classification: [43]65.75; [43]70.30.
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Relationships between a listener&apos;s identification of a spoken vowel and its properties as revealed from acoustic measurement of its sound wave have been a subject of study by many investigators. Both the utterance and the identification of a vowel depend upon the language and dialectal backgrounds and the vocal and auditory characteristics of the individuals concerned. The purpose of this paper is to discuss some of the control methods that have been used in the evaluation of these effects in a vowel study program at Bell Telephone Laboratories. The plan of the study, calibration of recording and measuring equipment, and methods for checking the performance of both speakers and listeners are described. The methods are illustrated from results of tests involving some 76 speakers and 70 listeners.
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Lombard noted in 1911 that a speaker changes his voice level similarly when the ambient noise level increases, on the one hand, and when the level at which he hears his own voice (his sidetone) decreases, on the other. We can now state the form of these two functions, show that they are related to each other and to the equal-sensation function for imitating speech or noise loudness, and account for their form in terms of the underlying sensory scales and the hypothesis that the speaker tries to maintain a speech-to-noise ratio favorable for communication. Perturbations in the timing and spectrum of sidetone also lead the speaker to compensate for the apparent deterioration in his intelligibility. Such compensations reflect direct and indirect audience control of speech, rather than its autoregulation by sidetone. When not harassed by prying experimenters or an unfavorable acoustic environment, the speaker need no more listen to himself while speaking than he need speak to himself while listening.
Article
Listening to language during the first year of life has a dramatic effect on infants’ perception of speech. With increasing exposure to a particular language, infants begin to ignore phonetic variations that are irrelevant in their native language. To examine these effects, 72 American and Japanese infants were tested at two ages, 6–8 months and 10–12 months, with synthetic versions of the American English /r/ and /l/ consonants. The /r–l/ contrast is not phonemic in Japanese. In both countries, the same experimenters, technique (head‐turn conditioning), and stimuli were used. The results revealed two significant effects. The first shows the impact of language experience on speech perception. At 6–8 months of age, American and Japanese infants did not differ. Both groups performed significantly above chance (American M=63.7%; Japanese M=64.7%). By 10–12 months of age, American infants demonstrated significant improvement relative to performance at 6–8 months (M=73.8%), while Japanese infants declined (M=59.9%). Second, performance varied significantly as a function of the direction of stimulus change (/l/ to /r/ easier than the reverse), regardless of age or language experience. Discussion will focus on separating effects attributable to linguistic and psychoacoustic factors. [Work supported by NIH.]
Article
Chinchillas (C h i n c h i l l a l a n i g e r) were tested in a same–different task to determine the location of greatest sensitivity along a continuum of voice‐onset‐time (VOT). The procedure used was an up–down staircase technique which allowed the determination of the just‐noticeable‐difference in VOT (Δ VOT) for VOT’s on a continuum ranging from [dα] to [tα]. Results demonstrated that the animals were most sensitive to change (i.e., produced the smallest Δ VOT values) in the region of the phonetic boundary dividing voiceless‐unaspirated and voiceless‐aspirated sounds, in good agreement with the boundary value previously obtained in an identification task with this same species [Kuhl and Miller, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 63, 905 (1978)]. The results support the notion that the mammalian auditory system provided a selective pressure on the choice of acoustic cues to represent the phonetic oppositions employed by the world’s languages. The data are discussed in terms of the original definition of categorical perception and current psychoacoustic explanations of the peak in sensitivity for two‐component stimuli varying in onset time.
Article
This chapter discusses the reason of difficulty in paired associate learning in amnesics. In an experiment described in the chapter, the subject receives a list of, say, 12 word pairs (including, for example, locomotive-dishtowel and table-banana, among others). After a slight delay, the experimenter presents the first word in one of the pairs, and asks the subject to recall the word that was previously paired with it in the experiment. Because of the subject's amnesia, the subject may not remember even that there was a list of word pairs. Nevertheless, as is standard in paired-associate learning, the subject is encouraged to guess a response. Given the arbitrary pairing of the words, table is unlikely to come to mind in the context of banana as a cue, and hence the stimulus is likely to elicit some other response. If learning is Hebbian, it is this response that will be strengthened, thereby leading to interference. There is experimental support for the idea that forcing amnesics to make their own responses to items leads to interference.
Article
The propensity to raise and vary the pitch of one's voice when addressing an infant or small child was investigated in a sample of 16 male and 16 female adults, half of whom were married with children and half of whom had never married and never had children. Fundamental frequency was assessed using a sound spectrograph. Mean fundamental frequency and average variability both increased significantly over baseline when subjects were asked to imagine speaking to an infant or small child and increased significantly again when an infant or a small child was actually present. Nonparents who had little prior experience with infants modified their fundamental frequency as much as parents. Sex of speaker was not significantly related to the modification of fundamental frequency when sex differences in range of modal frequency were held constant. These modifications in vocal frequency may be attributable either to a biologically based propensity in the adult speaker or to attentional feedback from the infant or small child.
Article
Evoked magnetic responses to speech sounds [R. Näätänen, A. Lehtokoski, M. Lennes, M. Cheour, M. Huotilainen, A. Iivonen, M. Vainio, P. Alku, R.J. Ilmoniemi, A. Luuk, J. Allik, J. Sinkkonen and K. Alho, Language-specific phoneme representations revealed by electric and magnetic brain responses. Nature, 385 (1997) 432–434.] were recorded from 13 Japanese subjects (right-handed). Infrequently presented vowels ([o]) among repetitive vowels ([e]) elicited the magnetic counterpart of mismatch negativity, MMNm (Bilateral, nine subjects; Left hemisphere alone, three subjects; Right hemisphere alone, one subject). The estimated source of the MMNm was stronger in the left than in the right auditory cortex. The sources were located posteriorly in the left than in the right auditory cortex. These findings are consistent with the results obtained in Finnish [R. Näätänen, A. Lehtokoski, M. Lennes, M. Cheour, M. Huotilainen, A. Iivonen, M.Vainio, P.Alku, R.J. Ilmoniemi, A. Luuk, J. Allik, J. Sinkkonen and K. Alho, Language-specific phoneme representations revealed by electric and magnetic brain responses. Nature, 385 (1997) 432–434.][T. Rinne, K. Alho, P. Alku, M. Holi, J. Sinkkonen, J. Virtanen, O. Bertrand and R. Näätänen, Analysis of speech sounds is left-hemisphere predominant at 100–150 ms after sound onset. Neuroreport, 10 (1999) 1113–1117.] and English [K. Alho, J.F. Connolly, M. Cheour, A. Lehtokoski, M. Huotilainen, J. Virtanen, R. Aulanko and R.J. Ilmoniemi, Hemispheric lateralization in preattentive processing of speech sounds. Neurosci. Lett., 258 (1998) 9–12.] subjects. Instead of the P1m observed in Finnish [M. Tervaniemi, A. Kujala, K. Alho, J. Virtanen, R.J. Ilmoniemi and R. Näätänen, Functional specialization of the human auditory cortex in processing phonetic and musical sounds: A magnetoencephalographic (MEG) study. Neuroimage, 9 (1999) 330–336.] and English [K. Alho, J.F. Connolly, M. Cheour, A. Lehtokoski, M. Huotilainen, J. Virtanen, R. Aulanko and R.J. Ilmoniemi, Hemispheric lateralization in preattentive processing of speech sounds. Neurosci. Lett., 258 (1998) 9–12.] subjects, prior to the MMNm, M60, was elicited by both rare and frequent sounds. Both MMNm and M60 sources were posteriorly located in the left than the right hemisphere.
Article
A recent report demonstrated that 8-month-olds can seg- ment a continuous stream of speech syllables, containing no acoustic or prosodic cues to word boundaries, into wordlike units after only 2 min of listening experience (Saffran, Aslin, & Newport, 1996). Thus, a powerful learning mechanism capable of extracting statistical informa- tion from fluent speech is available early in development. The present study extends these results by documenting the particular type of statis- tical computation—transitional (conditional) probability—used by infants to solve this word-segmentation task. An artificial language corpus, consisting of a continuous stream of trisyllabic nonsense words, was presented to 8-month-olds for 3 min. A postfamiliarization test compared the infants' responses to words versus part-words (tri- syllabic sequences spanning word boundaries). The corpus was con- structed so that test words and part-words were matched in frequency, but differed in their transitional probabilities. Infants showed reliable discrimination of words from part-words, thereby demonstrating rapid segmentation of continuous speech into words on the basis of transi- tional probabilities of syllable pairs.
Article
HEMISPHERIC specialization of human speech processing has been found in brain imaging studies using fMRI and PET. Due to the restricted time resolution, these methods cannot, however, determine the stage of auditory processing at which this specialization first emerges. We used a dense electrode array covering the whole scalp to record the mismatch negativity (MMN), an event-related brain potential (ERP) automatically elicited by occasional changes in sounds, which ranged from non-phonetic (tones) to phonetic (vowels). MMN can be used to probe auditory central processing on a millisecond scale with no attention-dependent task requirements. Our results indicate that speech processing occurs predominantly in the left hemisphere at the early, pre-attentive level of auditory analysis. NeuroReport 10:1113-1117 (C) 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Article
Categorization is an essential perceptual–cognitive activity that enables the reduction of the enormous diversity in the world to a manageable level. A typical categorization experiment involves two phases: (1) training subjects with a set of exemplars from a given category, which is followed by (2) a test with a mixture of new exemplars from the same category and nonexemplars. The degree to which subjects correctly sort these test items into category members versus nonmembers is taken as evidence for categorization. There are a number of similarities between infant and adult categorization processes. Infants, like adults, are able to abstract a prototypic representation containing the average of experienced dimensional values. By 10 months of age, infants are rather sophisticated in their categorization abilities, and these abilities develop considerably over the course of the first year. The developmental studies support the existence of two transitions across age in the perception of correlated attributes. First, there appears to be a developmental trend from the representation of feature-specific information to the representation of feature combinations. Second, there exists a transition from processing relations among features of a single pattern or object to processing correlations in the context of a category.
Article
We used evoked potential techniques to study the discrimination of speech and nonspeech consonant‐vowel syllables in 38 newborn infants. Auditory evoked responses (AERs) were recorded from each infant via scalp electrodes positioned over frontal, temporal, and parietal regions of each hemisphere. Analyses indicated that the AERs discriminated between the stop consonants /b/ and /g/. In addition, differences in discrimination were noted between male and female infants. These findings replicate and extend earlier work on newborn infant consonant discrimination.
Article
The performance of a computer model of linguistic segmentation is described and evaluated when it is used with natural language. It identifies words quite successfully and seems to have some sensitivity to morphs but it performs poorly with structures larger than words. From the language samples, the program extracts most of the sequential redundancy and some of the redundancy due to the unequal frequencies of elements. This accords with the principle of economical coding in cognition (Attneave, 1954; Oldfield, 1954). The process seems also to model certain aspects of how children's vocabularies grow and the increasing lengths of the words which children acquire. It may have a bearing on the explanation of infantile amnesia and the word transformation effect.
Article
In summary then, these studies of unilateral lesions in deaf signers show that certain lesions to the left hemisphere cause sign aphasias, affecting distinct structural levels of the language, while lesions to the right hemisphere can produce severe spatial deficits but leave language processing intact. Thus the left hemisphere is specialized for language - whether it be spoken or signed. What underlies this specialization of the left hemisphere for language appears not to be speech or sound alone. It is hypothesized that language specialization of the left hemisphere rests not on the physical form of the signal but rather on the linguistic function it subserves.
Article
Relations between phonological processing and speech perception skills in reading-disabled children and adults are considered. Following Wagner and Torgesen (1987), phonological processing is comprised of at least three distinct though interrelated abilities--phonemic awareness, phonological recoding in lexical access, and short-term verbal memory skills. Speech perception skills may also represent two domains, speech perception and short-term memory. Studies of speech perception and word reading are critiqued. The interactions of speech perception, phonological processing skills, and word-reading abilities with development are considered in a preliminary model of reading. Although studies of phonological processing and speech perception in poor readers have thus far developed separately, experimenters in these isolated domains could benefit from the research findings in each and the unique paradigms each uses to investigate deficits in poor readers.
Article
Examined the prosodic characteristics of "motherese" in the speech of 24 German mothers to their newborns. Each S was recorded in 3 observational conditions, while addressing (1) her 3–5 day old baby (MB speech), (2) the absent infant as if present (simulated MB speech), and (3) the adult interviewer (MA speech). For each S, 2-min speech samples from each condition were acoustically analyzed. It was found that in MB speech, Ss spoke with higher pitch, wider pitch excursions, longer pauses, shorter utterances, and more prosodic repetition than in MA speech. 77% of the utterances in the MB speech sample conformed to a limited set of prosodic patterns that occurred only rarely in adult-directed speech (i.e., they consisted of characteristic expanded intonation contours, or they were whispered). The prosody of mothers' speech is discussed in terms of its immediate influence within the context of mother–infant interaction, as well as its potential long-range contribution to perceptual, social, and linguistic development. The exaggerated, rhythmic vocalizations of mothers' speech to newborns may serve to regulate infant attention and responsiveness and later contribute to prelinguistic skills. (36 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Investigated the abstraction of prototypical information as a function of instance variability, category discriminability, and category size. Following 3 study–sort trials involving schematic face stimuli, 72 undergraduates were asked to classify old, new, and prototypical stimuli both immediately and after 1 wk. In addition, Ss were asked to indicate their preference between a feature prototype (containing the modal feature values) and an average prototype (containing the average feature values) for each of these conditions. Results are consonant with previous studies showing the facilitative influence of category size on abstraction. Analyses revealed that Ss were more likely to count features than to average them, except when variability was low and discriminability was difficult. Both classification performance and reaction time were best predicted by the city-block distance of an exemplar to the feature prototype. Evidence suggests that more dimensions were utilized during abstraction when category discriminability was made more difficult. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This article examines the role of attention and automaticity in auditory processing as revealed by event-related potential (ERP) research. An ERP component called the mismatch negativity , generated by the brain's automatic response to changes in repetitive auditory input, reveals that physical features of auditory stimuli are fully processed whether or not they are attended. It also suggests that there exist precise neuronal representations of the physical features of recent auditory stimuli, perhaps the traces underlying acoustic sensory (“echoic”) memory. A mechanism of passive attention switching in response to changes in repetitive input is also implicated. Conscious perception of discrete acoustic stimuli might be mediated by some of the mechanisms underlying another ERP component (NI), one sensitive to stimulus onset and offset. Frequent passive attentional shifts might accountforthe effect cognitive psychologists describe as “the breakthrough of the unattended” (Broadbent 1982), that is, that even unattended stimuli may be semantically processed, without assuming automatic semantic processing or late selection in selective attention. The processing negativity supports the early-selection theory and may arise from a mechanism for selectively attending to stimuli defined by certain features. This stimulus selection occurs in the form ofa matching process in which each input is compared with the “attentional trace,” a voluntarily maintained representation of the task-relevant features of the stimulus to be attended. The attentional mechanism described might underlie the stimulus-set mode of attention proposed by Broadbent. Finally, a model of automatic and attentional processing in audition is proposed that is based mainly on the aforementioned ERP components and some other physiological measures.