Young Infants' Word Comprehension Given An Unfamiliar Talker or Altered Pronunciations.

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2017-06-22

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Abstract

To understand spoken words, listeners must appropriately interpret co-occurring talker characteristics and speech sound content. This ability was tested in 6- to 14-months-olds by measuring their looking to named food and body part images. In the new talker condition (n = 90), pictures were named by an unfamiliar voice; in the mispronunciation condition (n = 98), infants' mothers "mispronounced" the words (e.g., nazz for nose). Six- to 7-month-olds fixated target images above chance across conditions, understanding novel talkers, and mothers' phonologically deviant speech equally. Eleven- to 14-months-olds also understood new talkers, but performed poorly with mispronounced speech, indicating sensitivity to phonological deviation. Between these ages, performance was mixed. These findings highlight the changing roles of acoustic and phonetic variability in early word comprehension, as infants learn which variations alter meaning.

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10.1111/cdev.12888

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Bergelson, Elika, and Daniel Swingley (2017). Young Infants' Word Comprehension Given An Unfamiliar Talker or Altered Pronunciations. Child Dev. 10.1111/cdev.12888 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/15799.

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Bergelson

Elika Bergelson

Associate Research Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

Dr. Bergelson's lab has moved to Harvard Psychology; she retains an unremunerated research appointment at Duke through mid-2024 for logistical reasons. She formerly accepted PhD applicants through the Developmental and Cog/CogNeuro areas of P&N and the CNAP program.

In my research, I try to understand the interplay of processes during language acquisition.
In particular, I am interested in how word learning relates to other aspects of learning language (e.g. speech sound acquisition, grammar/morphology learning), and social/cognitive development more broadly (e.g. joint attention processes) in the first few years of life.

I pursue these questions using three main approaches: in-lab measures of early comprehension and production (eye-tracking, looking-time, and in EEG studies in collaboration with the Woldorff lab), and at-home measures of infants' linguistic and social environment (as in the SEEDLingS project).

More recently the lab is branching out to look at a wider range of human populations and at infants who are blind or deaf/heard of hearing.


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