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All the Right Noises: Background Variability Helps Early Word Learning

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All the Right Noises : Background Variability Helps Early Word Learning. / Twomey, Katherine Elizabeth; Ma, Lizhi; Westermann, Gert.

In: Cognitive Science, Vol. 42 Suppl 2, No. Suppl. 2, 01.05.2018, p. 413-438.

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@article{91ca242d8a2f46f3b11807106d1445df,
title = "All the Right Noises: Background Variability Helps Early Word Learning",
abstract = "Variability is prevalent in early language acquisition, but, whether it supports or hinders learning is unclear; while target variability has been shown to facilitate word learning, variability in competitor items has been shown to make the task harder. Here, we tested whether background variability could boost learning in a referent selection task. Two groups of 2-year-old children saw arrays of one novel and two known objects on a screen, and they heard a novel or known label. Stimuli were identical across conditions, with the exception that in the constant color condition objects appeared on a uniform white background, and in the variable color condition backgrounds were different, uniform colors. At test, only children in the variable condition showed evidence of retaining label-object associations. These data support findings from the adult memory literature, which suggest that variability supports learning by decontextualizing representations. We argue that these data are consistent with dynamic systems accounts of learning in which low-level entropy adds sufficient noise to the developmental system to precipitate a change in behavior.",
keywords = "Word learning, Fast mapping, Variability, Entropy, Dynamic systems, Cognitive development",
author = "Twomey, {Katherine Elizabeth} and Lizhi Ma and Gert Westermann",
year = "2018",
month = may,
day = "1",
doi = "10.1111/cogs.12539",
language = "English",
volume = "42 Suppl 2",
pages = "413--438",
journal = "Cognitive Science",
issn = "0364-0213",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "Suppl. 2",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - All the Right Noises

T2 - Background Variability Helps Early Word Learning

AU - Twomey, Katherine Elizabeth

AU - Ma, Lizhi

AU - Westermann, Gert

PY - 2018/5/1

Y1 - 2018/5/1

N2 - Variability is prevalent in early language acquisition, but, whether it supports or hinders learning is unclear; while target variability has been shown to facilitate word learning, variability in competitor items has been shown to make the task harder. Here, we tested whether background variability could boost learning in a referent selection task. Two groups of 2-year-old children saw arrays of one novel and two known objects on a screen, and they heard a novel or known label. Stimuli were identical across conditions, with the exception that in the constant color condition objects appeared on a uniform white background, and in the variable color condition backgrounds were different, uniform colors. At test, only children in the variable condition showed evidence of retaining label-object associations. These data support findings from the adult memory literature, which suggest that variability supports learning by decontextualizing representations. We argue that these data are consistent with dynamic systems accounts of learning in which low-level entropy adds sufficient noise to the developmental system to precipitate a change in behavior.

AB - Variability is prevalent in early language acquisition, but, whether it supports or hinders learning is unclear; while target variability has been shown to facilitate word learning, variability in competitor items has been shown to make the task harder. Here, we tested whether background variability could boost learning in a referent selection task. Two groups of 2-year-old children saw arrays of one novel and two known objects on a screen, and they heard a novel or known label. Stimuli were identical across conditions, with the exception that in the constant color condition objects appeared on a uniform white background, and in the variable color condition backgrounds were different, uniform colors. At test, only children in the variable condition showed evidence of retaining label-object associations. These data support findings from the adult memory literature, which suggest that variability supports learning by decontextualizing representations. We argue that these data are consistent with dynamic systems accounts of learning in which low-level entropy adds sufficient noise to the developmental system to precipitate a change in behavior.

KW - Word learning

KW - Fast mapping

KW - Variability

KW - Entropy

KW - Dynamic systems

KW - Cognitive development

U2 - 10.1111/cogs.12539

DO - 10.1111/cogs.12539

M3 - Journal article

C2 - 28940612

VL - 42 Suppl 2

SP - 413

EP - 438

JO - Cognitive Science

JF - Cognitive Science

SN - 0364-0213

IS - Suppl. 2

ER -