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Cognition. 2008 Mar;106(3):1558-68. Epub 2007 Aug 9.

Infants rapidly learn word-referent mappings via cross-situational statistics.

Author information

1
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, and Cognitive Science Program, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA. smith4@indiana.edu

Abstract

First word learning should be difficult because any pairing of a word and scene presents the learner with an infinite number of possible referents. Accordingly, theorists of children's rapid word learning have sought constraints on word-referent mappings. These constraints are thought to work by enabling learners to resolve the ambiguity inherent in any labeled scene to determine the speaker's intended referent at that moment. The present study shows that 12- and 14-month-old infants can resolve the uncertainty problem in another way, not by unambiguously deciding the referent in a single word-scene pairing, but by rapidly evaluating the statistical evidence across many individually ambiguous words and scenes.

PMID:
17692305
PMCID:
PMC2271000
DOI:
10.1016/j.cognition.2007.06.010
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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