The link between statistical segmentation and word learning in adults

Academic Article


  • Many studies have shown that listeners can segment words from running speech based on conditional probabilities of syllable transitions, suggesting that this statistical learning could be a foundational component of language learning. However, few studies have shown a direct link between statistical segmentation and word learning. We examined this possible link in adults by following a statistical segmentation exposure phase with an artificial lexicon learning phase. Participants were able to learn all novel object-label pairings, but pairings were learned faster when labels contained high probability (word-like) or non-occurring syllable transitions from the statistical segmentation phase than when they contained low probability (boundary-straddling) syllable transitions. This suggests that, for adults, labels inconsistent with expectations based on statistical learning are harder to learn than consistent or neutral labels. In contrast, a previous study found that infants learn consistent labels, but not inconsistent or neutral labels. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Cognition  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Mirman D; Magnuson JS; Estes KG; Dixon JA
  • Start Page

  • 271
  • End Page

  • 280
  • Volume

  • 108
  • Issue

  • 1