Word segmentation from continuous speech: An ERP study with 10-month-old infants
SourceJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 16, , (2004), pp. 57
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC BO
SW OZ DCC CO
F.C. Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
SW OZ NICI CO
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Behavioral studies have shown that infants can segment some words from continuous speech well before they begin to speak - from about 7.5 months of age for English-learning infants and from at least 9 months of age for Dutch-learning infants. The predominant stress pattern of these languages seems to be an important cue in acquiring the word segmentation skill. To further study this important step in language acquisition we designed a new auditory ERP (Event-Related Potential) repetition paradigm. In this paradigm an experimental block consisted of 10 tokens of the same bisyllabic strong/weak word, followed by 8 sentences of which half contain the familiarized word. Both the lists of words in isolation and the sentences were recorded by a female speaker in a lively, infant-directed manner. EEG (ElectroEncephaloGram) was measured during both the lists and the sentences. The results from 28 Dutch 10-month-old infants show an ERP effect of familiarization in both the word lists and the sentences: In the word lists positivity reduces with increasing word position and in the sentences the repeated words show an effect in the same direction, namely a negative deflection as compared to similar new words in sentences. Both effects appear well before the end of the word. These results confirm that 10-month-old infants can indeed segment bisyllabic strong/weak words from continuous speech. Moreover, infants need very little time to recognize words either in isolation or in continuous speech. This new paradigm opens the way for detailed study of word segmentation by infants.
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