Detailed Behavioral Analysis as a Window Into Cross-Situational Word Learning

Cognitive Science 36 (3):545-559 (2012)
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Abstract

Recent research has demonstrated that word learners can determine word-referent mappings by tracking co-occurrences across multiple ambiguous naming events. The current study addresses the mechanisms underlying this capacity to learn words cross-situationally. This replication and extension of Yu and Smith (2007) investigates the factors influencing both successful cross-situational word learning and mis-mappings. Item analysis and error patterns revealed that the co-occurrence structure of the learning environment as well as the context of the testing environment jointly affected learning across observations. Learners also adopted an exclusion strategy, which contributed conjointly with statistical tracking to performance. Implications for our understanding of the processes underlying cross-situational word learning are discussed

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