All words are not created equal: Expectations about word length guide infant statistical learning

Cognition 122 (2):241-246 (2012)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Infants have been described as 'statistical learners' capable of extracting structure (such as words) from patterned input (such as language). Here, we investigated whether prior knowledge influences how infants track transitional probabilities in word segmentation tasks. Are infants biased by prior experience when engaging in sequential statistical learning? In a laboratory simulation of learning across time, we exposed 9- and 10-month-old infants to a list of either disyllabic or trisyllabic nonsense words, followed by a pause-free speech stream composed of a different set of disyllabic or trisyllabic nonsense words. Listening times revealed successful segmentation of words from fluent speech only when words were uniformly disyllabic or trisyllabic throughout both phases of the experiment. Hearing trisyllabic words during the pre-exposure phase derailed infants' abilities to segment speech into disyllabic words, and vice versa. We conclude that prior knowledge about word length equips infants with perceptual expectations that facilitate efficient processing of subsequent language input



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,197

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Don't preverbal infants map words onto referents?Lakshmi J. Gogate - 2001 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (6):1106-1107.
Which came first: Infants learning language or motherese?Heather Bortfeld - 2004 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (4):505-506.
Controversies in the study of word learning.Paul Bloom - 2001 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (6):1124-1130.


Added to PP

64 (#254,104)

6 months
44 (#94,295)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?