Development 4 - Language acquisition PBS5

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  1. Main points.
    • 1. Phonological 
    • 2. Semantic
    • 3. Syntactical
    • Importance of statistical learning
    • Importance of social interaction
  2. How was language studied before? What is special about language acquisition and its link to social cognition?
    • It was studied distinc from other cognitive capacities
    • Language has a symbolic function
    • psychological tool for organising and changing our own cognitive experiences
    • Words encode our experiences (Vygotsky)
  3. Phonological development. Major points.
    • 1. cog mechanisms like statistical learning (for perception) and imitation (for production) underlie this
    • 2. Kuhl: Social interaction and face-to-face contingent interaction important
    •     Mandarin graduates and 9-month old ENglish infants - still can distinguish phonetic distinctions --> but infants who simply watched a video of play sessions did not retain Mandarin Chinese speech contrasts
    • 3. Infant Directed speech (IDS)
    • 4. Categorical perception - there is no period of ambiguity between the phonemes /b/ and /p/ in 'bat' and 'pat' - it is a sudden shift in perception for adults --> when do infants learn this?
    •     Study - Eimas et al: 1 month old infants could do exactly same! continuum of sound between /b/ and /p/ - adults' boundary between 20ms and 40ms onset sound (but 0ms -20ms perceived as same /b/ sound
    •      No dishabituation of sucking between other changes of equal stimulus magnitude (only 20-40ms)
    • (NB - Similar but non-identical sounds that consistute the same phoneme is called an allophone)
    • 5. Specialises - Less sensitive to other languages
    •    Werker and Tees: sensitivity to phoneme distinctions in other languages disappears after 1yr
    •    Perceptual 'magnets': sounds perceptally similar to prototype are grouped together --> which sounds are experienced as similar varies across languages (Khuls)
  4. Give an example of a cultural difference in how we distinguish between phonemes.
    • English: divide acoustic continuum from /d/ to /t/ into 2 phonemes 
    • Hindi: 3 phoneme divisions --> with 2 for the /t/ part
  5. What could be an interessting addition to Werker and Tees's study?
    • They looked at behvaioural differences to show that they start specialising at least by 1yo, but they have no brain-imaging study yet.
    • Brain imaging could show whether perception is dead or just attention
  6. Semantic development. Major points.
    • 1.Joint Attention Triangle - non-verbal cues (eg gaze) conveys referential information
    • 2. Importance of IDS
    •      Helps mapping
    •      Fernald: mothers unconsciously emphasise novel words when reading story
    • 3. Overextension - use single word to refer to many different things ('ball' to describe fruits as well as ball)
    •     Semantically confused? No.
    •     Fremgen & Fay: only over-extend during language production, and never overextend during language comprehension (picture naming vs choose pic task)
    •     Simply using limited vocab to communicate as flexibly as possible
    •     Children of different cultures often have similar first words (that refer to salient things)
    • 4. 'Fast mapping' - single experince of new word is sufficient for learning (eg. just by over-hearing adults)
    •     However, this is not a special in-built human language-learning device --> dogs have fast mapping (Rico the dog) --> a form of exclusion learning. Rico learnt 200+ words --> shows they can learn word-object pairings by quickly eliminating other possible meanings for that word.
  7. Syntactical/grammatical development. Major points.
    • 1. Syntax (how words are put together) and morphology (internal structures of words - eg burglary and stealery)
    • 2. Morphology - affected by morphemes (walk +ed) 
    •     inflectional morphology (timing)
    •     derivational morphology (create new word by adding suffix or affix (eg un+happy)
    • 3. Old view: Language acquisition device Chomsky (1957) - nativist
    • 4. Recent: 'Usage-based' connectionist theories (Tomasello, 2000)
    •     copy utterances they hear around them --> statistical mechanism
    • 5. U-shaped learning --> imitate, then period of generalisations, then settle in. Can be explained by these learning theories. 
    • 6. Berko: can use rules on nonsense words too --> role of phonological influences on analogy
    •     Determines what kind of rules children will and will not apply on grammatical tests 
    •     Importance of speech and phonology in the statistical regularities 
    • 7. Children's errors drop away even though nobody explicitly tells them it's wrong --> importance of turn-taking where adult reformulates sentecnes
    • 8. Hart and Risley: enormous differences in exposure to speech between high SES and low SES families
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Development 4 - Language acquisition PBS5
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