From statistics to meaning: infants' acquisition of lexical categories.

TitleFrom statistics to meaning: infants' acquisition of lexical categories.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsLany J, Saffran JR
JournalPsychol Sci
Volume21
Issue2
Pagination284-91
Date Published2010 Feb
ISSN1467-9280
KeywordsAssociation Learning, Cues, Female, Generalization (Psychology), Humans, Infant, Language Development, Male, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Psychology, Child, Semantics, Speech Perception, Transfer (Psychology)
Abstract

Infants are highly sensitive to statistical patterns in their auditory language input that mark word categories (e.g., noun and verb). However, it is unknown whether experience with these cues facilitates the acquisition of semantic properties of word categories. In a study testing this hypothesis, infants first listened to an artificial language in which word categories were reliably distinguished by statistical cues (experimental group) or in which these properties did not cue category membership (control group). Both groups were then trained on identical pairings between the words and pictures from two categories (animals and vehicles). Only infants in the experimental group learned the trained associations between specific words and pictures. Moreover, these infants generalized the pattern to include novel pairings. These results suggest that experience with statistical cues marking lexical categories sets the stage for learning the meanings of individual words and for generalizing meanings to new category members.

DOI10.1177/0956797609358570
Alternate JournalPsychol Sci
PubMed ID20424058
PubMed Central IDPMC3865606
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