Interactions between statistical and semantic information in infant language development.

TitleInteractions between statistical and semantic information in infant language development.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsLany J, Saffran JR
JournalDev Sci
Volume14
Issue5
Pagination1207-19
Date Published2011 Sep
ISSN1467-7687
KeywordsChild Development, Cues, Female, Humans, Infant, Language Development, Learning, Male, Phonetics, Semantics, Speech Acoustics, Verbal Learning, Vocabulary
Abstract

Infants can use statistical regularities to form rudimentary word categories (e.g. noun, verb), and to learn the meanings common to words from those categories. Using an artificial language methodology, we probed the mechanisms by which two types of statistical cues (distributional and phonological regularities) affect word learning. Because linking distributional cues vs. phonological information to semantics make different computational demands on learners, we also tested whether their use is related to language proficiency. We found that 22-month-old infants with smaller vocabularies generalized using phonological cues; however, infants with larger vocabularies showed the opposite pattern of results, generalizing based on distributional cues. These findings suggest that both phonological and distributional cues marking word categories promote early word learning. Moreover, while correlations between these cues are important to forming word categories, we found infants' weighting of these cues in subsequent word-learning tasks changes over the course of early language development.

DOI10.1111/j.1467-7687.2011.01073.x
Alternate JournalDev Sci
PubMed ID21884336
PubMed Central IDPMC3867528
Grant ListP30 HD003352 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
F32 HD057698 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
R01 HD037466 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
R01HD37466 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
P30 HD03352 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
R37 HD037466 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States