The Interplay of Multiple Mechanisms in Word Learning

Abstract

Word learning in adults succeeds with the help of various mechanisms and is based on multi-modal information sources. The complex interplay of these different cues, however, has rarely been studied. We present two experiments investigating how cross-situational word learning (CSWL) and learning based on sentence-level constraints (SLCL) interact. Our results reveal that SLCL reduces the impact of CSWL when cues are in conflict (Experiment 1) and even blocks statistical sensitivity when cues are independently applicable (Experiment 2). We suggest that the probabilistic nature of CSWL and the more deterministic cues offered by SLCL may underlie this behavior.


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