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Brief articles Infants are sensitive to within-category variation
 

Summary: Brief articles
Infants are sensitive to within-category variation
in speech perception
Bob McMurray*,1
, Richard N. Aslin
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627, USA
Received 12 May 2004; accepted 19 July 2004
Abstract
Previous research on speech perception in both adults and infants has supported the view that
consonants are perceived categorically; that is, listeners are relatively insensitive to variation below
the level of the phoneme. More recent work, on the other hand, has shown adults to be systematically
sensitive to within category variation [McMurray, B., Tanenhaus, M., & Aslin, R. (2002). Gradient
effects of within-category phonetic variation on lexical access, Cognition, 86 (2), B33B42.].
Additionally, recent evidence suggests that infants are capable of using within-category variation to
segment speech and to learn phonetic categories. Here we report two studies of 8-month-old infants,
using the head-turn preference procedure, that examine more directly infants' sensitivity to within-
category variation. Infants were exposed to 80 repetitions of words beginning with either /b/ or /p/.
After exposure, listening times to tokens of the same category with small variations in VOT were
significantly different than to both the originally exposed tokens and to the cross-category-boundary
competitors. Thus infants, like adults, show systematic sensitivity to fine-grained, within-category

  

Source: Aslin, Richard N. - Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester

 

Collections: Biology and Medicine