Statistical learning of tone sequences by human infants and adults.

TitleStatistical learning of tone sequences by human infants and adults.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsSaffran JR, Johnson EK, Aslin RN, Newport EL
Date Published1999 Feb 01
KeywordsAdult, Cues, Humans, Infant, Learning, Speech, Statistics as Topic

Previous research suggests that language learners can detect and use the statistical properties of syllable sequences to discover words in continuous speech (e.g. Aslin, R.N., Saffran, J.R., Newport, E.L., 1998. Computation of conditional probability statistics by 8-month-old infants. Psychological Science 9, 321-324; Saffran, J.R., Aslin, R.N., Newport, E.L., 1996. Statistical learning by 8-month-old infants. Science 274, 1926-1928; Saffran, J., R., Newport, E.L., Aslin, R.N., (1996). Word segmentation: the role of distributional cues. Journal of Memory and Language 35, 606-621; Saffran, J.R., Newport, E.L., Aslin, R.N., Tunick, R.A., Barrueco, S., 1997. Incidental language learning: Listening (and learning) out of the corner of your ear. Psychological Science 8, 101-195). In the present research, we asked whether this statistical learning ability is uniquely tied to linguistic materials. Subjects were exposed to continuous non-linguistic auditory sequences whose elements were organized into 'tone words'. As in our previous studies, statistical information was the only word boundary cue available to learners. Both adults and 8-month-old infants succeeded at segmenting the tone stream, with performance indistinguishable from that obtained with syllable streams. These results suggest that a learning mechanism previously shown to be involved in word segmentation can also be used to segment sequences of non-linguistic stimuli.

Alternate JournalCognition
PubMed ID10193055
Grant ListR01 DC000167 / DC / NIDCD NIH HHS / United States
R01 DC000167-26 / DC / NIDCD NIH HHS / United States
R01 HD037082 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
DC00167 / DC / NIDCD NIH HHS / United States