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ERIC Number: EJ781859
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Feb
Pages: 38
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0277
Influences of High and Low Variability on Infant Word Recognition
Singh, Leher
Cognition, v106 n2 p833-870 Feb 2008
Although infants begin to encode and track novel words in fluent speech by 7.5 months, their ability to recognize words is somewhat limited at this stage. In particular, when the surface form of a word is altered, by changing the gender or affective prosody of the speaker, infants begin to falter at spoken word recognition. Given that natural speech is replete with variability, only some of which determines the meaning of a word, it remains unclear how infants might ever overcome the effects of surface variability without appealing to meaning. In the current set of experiments, consequences of high and low variability are examined in preverbal infants. The source of variability, vocal affect, is a common property of infant-directed speech with which young learners have to contend. Across a series of four experiments, infants' abilities to recognize repeated encounters of words, as well as to reject similar-sounding words, are investigated in the context of high and low affective variation. Results point to positive consequences of affective variation, both in creating generalizable memory representations for words, but also in establishing phonologically precise memories for words. Conversely, low variability appears to degrade word recognition on both fronts, compromising infants' abilities to generalize across different affective forms of a word and to detect similar-sounding items. Findings are discussed in the context of principles of categorization that may potentiate the early growth of a lexicon.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A