In a series of experiments appearing in the May issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Gary Marcus and co-authors Keith Fernandes and Scott Johnson at New York University exposed infants to abstractly structured sequences that consisted of either speech syllables or nonspeech sounds.
Once infants became familiar with these sequences, Marcus and his colleagues presented the infants four new unique sequences: Two of these new sequences were consistent with the familiarization “grammar,” while two were inconsistent. For example, given familiarization with la ta ta, ge lai lai, consistent test sentences would include wo fe fe and de ko ko (ABB), while inconsistent sentences would include wo wo fe and de de ko (AAB). They then measured how long infants attended to each sequence in order to determine whether they recognized the previously learned grammar.
In the first two experiments, the researchers examined infants’ rule learning using sequences of tones, sung syllables, musical instruments of varying timbres and animal noises.
Across both experiments, infants were able to identify rules only when exposed to speech sequences (versus nonspeech sequences). These findings are significant, says Marcus, because “the essence of language is learning rules, and these results suggest that young infants are specifically prepared to learn these rules from speech.”
In a third experiment, the researchers discovered another intriguing result: Infants were able to generalize rules learned from speech to the sequences of nonspeech sounds, even though they couldn’t directly learn rules from the nonspeech stimuli. Infants were again familiarized with structured sequences of speech and then tested on their ability to recognize those same structures in sequences of tones, timbres, and animal sounds. Infants who received this pre-exposure to structured sequences of speech were able to recognize these same structures in the nonlinguistic stimuli. This shows, according to Marcus, that “infants’ drive to understand the abstract patterns underlying speech must be much stronger than their pull towards understanding abstraction in other domains.”
“Infants may analyze speech more deeply than other signals because it is highly familiar or highly salient, because it is produced by humans, because it is inherently capable of bearing meaning, or because it bears some not-yet-identified acoustic property that draws the attention of the rule-induction system,” writes Marcus.
“Regardless, from birth, infants prefer listening to speech,” he continues, “and the intriguing patterns we have observed in rule learning and transfer could in some way be an extension of that initial, profound interest in speech.”
Catherine West | EurekAlert!
WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed
25.04.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.
Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...
A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.
Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.05.2018 | Information Technology
18.05.2018 | Information Technology