Linking sounds to meanings: infant statistical learning in a natural language.

TitleLinking sounds to meanings: infant statistical learning in a natural language.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsHay JF, Pelucchi B, Estes KGraf, Saffran JR
JournalCogn Psychol
Volume63
Issue2
Pagination93-106
Date Published2011 Sep
ISSN1095-5623
KeywordsAcoustic Stimulation, Auditory Perception, Child Development, Humans, Infant, Language Development, Language Tests, Learning, Vocabulary
Abstract

The processes of infant word segmentation and infant word learning have largely been studied separately. However, the ease with which potential word forms are segmented from fluent speech seems likely to influence subsequent mappings between words and their referents. To explore this process, we tested the link between the statistical coherence of sequences presented in fluent speech and infants' subsequent use of those sequences as labels for novel objects. Notably, the materials were drawn from a natural language unfamiliar to the infants (Italian). The results of three experiments suggest that there is a close relationship between the statistics of the speech stream and subsequent mapping of labels to referents. Mapping was facilitated when the labels contained high transitional probabilities in the forward and/or backward direction (Experiment 1). When no transitional probability information was available (Experiment 2), or when the internal transitional probabilities of the labels were low in both directions (Experiment 3), infants failed to link the labels to their referents. Word learning appears to be strongly influenced by infants' prior experience with the distribution of sounds that make up words in natural languages.

DOI10.1016/j.cogpsych.2011.06.002
Alternate JournalCogn Psychol
PubMed ID21762650
PubMed Central IDPMC3143199
Grant ListP30 HD003352 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
R01 HD037466-10A1 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
F32-HD557032 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
R01 HD037466 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
F32 HD055703-02 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
P30HD03352 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
P30 HD003352-44 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
R01HD37466 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
R37 HD037466 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States