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. (shrink)
Perception is not an independent, in‐the‐moment event. Instead, perceiving involves integrating prior expectations with current observations. How does this ability develop from infancy through adulthood? We examined how prior visual experience shapes visual perception in infants, children, and adults. Using an identical task across age groups, we exposed participants to pairs of colorful stimuli and implicitly measured their ability to discriminate relative saturation levels. Results showed that adult participants were biased by previously experienced exemplars, and exhibited weakened in‐the‐moment discrimination between (...) different levels of saturation. In contrast, infants and children showed less influence of memory in their perception, and they actually outperformed adults in discriminating between current levels of saturation. Our findings suggest that as humans develop, their perception relies more on prior experience and less on current observation. (shrink)
Yarkoni's analysis clearly articulates a number of concerns limiting the generalizability and explanatory power of psychological findings, many of which are compounded in infancy research. ManyBabies addresses these concerns via a radically collaborative, large-scale and open approach to research that is grounded in theory-building, committed to diversification, and focused on understanding sources of variation.