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Statistical language learning in neonates revealed by event-related brain potentials

Teinonen, Tuomas; Fellman, Vineta LU ; Naatanen, Risto; Alku, Paavo and Huotilainen, Minna (2009) In BMC Neuroscience 10.
Abstract
Background: Statistical learning is a candidate for one of the basic prerequisites underlying the expeditious acquisition of spoken language. Infants from 8 months of age exhibit this form of learning to segment fluent speech into distinct words. To test the statistical learning skills at birth, we recorded event-related brain responses of sleeping neonates while they were listening to a stream of syllables containing statistical cues to word boundaries. Results: We found evidence that sleeping neonates are able to automatically extract statistical properties of the speech input and thus detect the word boundaries in a continuous stream of syllables containing no morphological cues. Syllable-specific event-related brain responses found in... (More)
Background: Statistical learning is a candidate for one of the basic prerequisites underlying the expeditious acquisition of spoken language. Infants from 8 months of age exhibit this form of learning to segment fluent speech into distinct words. To test the statistical learning skills at birth, we recorded event-related brain responses of sleeping neonates while they were listening to a stream of syllables containing statistical cues to word boundaries. Results: We found evidence that sleeping neonates are able to automatically extract statistical properties of the speech input and thus detect the word boundaries in a continuous stream of syllables containing no morphological cues. Syllable-specific event-related brain responses found in two separate studies demonstrated that the neonatal brain treated the syllables differently according to their position within pseudowords. Conclusion: These results demonstrate that neonates can efficiently learn transitional probabilities or frequencies of co-occurrence between different syllables, enabling them to detect word boundaries and in this way isolate single words out of fluent natural speech. The ability to adopt statistical structures from speech may play a fundamental role as one of the earliest prerequisites of language acquisition. (Less)
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author
organization
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type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
BMC Neuroscience
volume
10
publisher
BioMed Central
external identifiers
  • wos:000265851900001
  • scopus:65349162757
ISSN
1471-2202
DOI
10.1186/1471-2202-10-21
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
f73753d5-6367-4eaa-a839-d8ac47e69fd6 (old id 1426404)
date added to LUP
2009-06-29 14:47:56
date last changed
2017-11-19 03:58:12
@article{f73753d5-6367-4eaa-a839-d8ac47e69fd6,
  abstract     = {Background: Statistical learning is a candidate for one of the basic prerequisites underlying the expeditious acquisition of spoken language. Infants from 8 months of age exhibit this form of learning to segment fluent speech into distinct words. To test the statistical learning skills at birth, we recorded event-related brain responses of sleeping neonates while they were listening to a stream of syllables containing statistical cues to word boundaries. Results: We found evidence that sleeping neonates are able to automatically extract statistical properties of the speech input and thus detect the word boundaries in a continuous stream of syllables containing no morphological cues. Syllable-specific event-related brain responses found in two separate studies demonstrated that the neonatal brain treated the syllables differently according to their position within pseudowords. Conclusion: These results demonstrate that neonates can efficiently learn transitional probabilities or frequencies of co-occurrence between different syllables, enabling them to detect word boundaries and in this way isolate single words out of fluent natural speech. The ability to adopt statistical structures from speech may play a fundamental role as one of the earliest prerequisites of language acquisition.},
  author       = {Teinonen, Tuomas and Fellman, Vineta and Naatanen, Risto and Alku, Paavo and Huotilainen, Minna},
  issn         = {1471-2202},
  language     = {eng},
  publisher    = {BioMed Central},
  series       = {BMC Neuroscience},
  title        = {Statistical language learning in neonates revealed by event-related brain potentials},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2202-10-21},
  volume       = {10},
  year         = {2009},
}