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Breaking the Word Learning Barrier: How children learn their first words

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Breaking the Word Learning Barrier: How children learn their first words Kathy Hirsh-Pasek Roberta Golinkoff Beth Hennon Mandy Maguire Outline I. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Breaking the Word Learning Barrier: How children learn their first words


1
Breaking the Word Learning Barrier How children
learn their first words
  • Kathy Hirsh-Pasek
  • Roberta Golinkoff
  • Beth Hennon
  • Mandy Maguire

2
Outline
  • I. The Word Learning Problem
  • II. Three Theories of Lexical Acquisition
  • III. The Emergentist Coalition Model
  • IV. Evidence for the Theory
  • V. Conclusions

3
Part I
  • The Word Learning Problem

4
Introduction to Word Learning
  • At twelve months, David utters his first
    word. In just seven or eight months, he will be
    learning up to nine new words a day and will have
    over 50 words in his productive vocabulary.

5
Two questions
  • 1. How do infants break the word barrier at 12
    months?
  • 2. What accounts for the changing character of
    word learning that appears at 19 months?

6
Breaking the Word Barrier
  • Segment words from the constant flow of speech
    (Jusczyk, Cutler, others).
  • Find coherent objects, actions, and events in
    their environment (Spelke, Baillargeon,
    others).
  • Map the words to those objects and events in a
    symbolic way (Markman, Clark, Waxman, Tomesello,
    others).

7
Quinean Conundrum
  • Gavagai!

8
Part II.
  • Three theories of Word Learning

9
Constraints/Principles Views
  • Assumption Takes Quine seriously. Child has a
    major induction problem. Child as biased word
    learner.
  • Data Children entertain limited hypothesis for
    a word's meaning.
  • Markman's Mutual Exclusivity
  • Clark's Conventionality
  • Golinkoff, Mervis, Hirsh-Paseks N3C

10
Constraints/Principles Views
  • If we grant learners some domain-specific
    principles, we provide them with a way to define
    the range of relevant inputs, the ones that
    support learning about that domain. Because
    principles embody constraints on the kinds of
    input that can be processed as data that are
    relevant to that domain, they therefore can
    direct attention to those aspects of the
    environment that need to be selected and attended
    to (p. 130)
  • Gelman Greeno (1989)

11
Diagram of lexical principles framework
12
Associative Views
  • AssumptionQuine is irrelevant. Word learning
    develops from domain general associative learning
    mechanisms -- dumb attentional mechanisms.
  • Data Children will make any link if it is
    salient.
  • Salient Objects
  • Salient Part.
  • Salient Actions

13
Associative Views
  • children do not acquire their first words
    rapidly rather fast word learning only occurs
    only after children have already learned some
    initial words fast word learning might be a
    learned generalization from language input.
  • Smith (1996)

14
Social-Pragmatic
  • Assumption Inverse of Quine. Social world
    guides child to word-world mapping. Child is
    Apprentice to Expert Word User.
  • Data Children recognize social cues and use them
    in the service of word learning.
  • Baldwin's telephone example
  • Tomasello's joint attention adults constrain
    conversation.

15
Social-Pragmatic
  • The typical way children acquire words...is
    almost completely opposite of the Quinean
    paradigm. Children do not try and guess what it
    is that the adult intends to refer to
    rather...it is the adult who guesses what the
    child is focused on and then supplies the
    appropriate word (pp. 240-241)
  • Nelson (1988)

16
Problems with the theories
  • Snapshots
  • Reductionism
  • Single cues not multiple cues
  • We need to avoid snapshots and find a system
    which embraces change.

17
The Battle
Social Pragmatic
VS.
Constraints
Associative
Mutually exclusive or compatible?
18
Part I I I
  • An Attempt at Integration

19
Emergentist Coalition Model
  • We propose a hybrid-developmental model in which
    children start with basic word learning
    principles but the character of these principles
    changes over time. For example, children might
    start with a principle of reference -- that a
    word refers. At first, a word is ASSOCIATED with
    the most interesting object. Later, word
    reference is SOCIALLY informed, mapping onto the
    object the speaker has in mind.

20
Emergentist Model
  • We propose a model of an active child which has
    the following properties
  • Multiple Cues - Attentional, Social, Linguistic.
  • Differential Weighting over time
  • Emergent properties - Immature to Mature

21
Multiple Cues
Perceptual Salience
Temporal Contiguity
Grammar
Child Learner
Eye Gaze
Morphology
Social Context
22
Differential Weighting Time 1
Perceptual Salience
Temporal Contiguity
Grammar
Child Learner
Eye Gaze
Morphology
Social Context
23
Differential Weighting Time 2
Perceptual Salience
Temporal Contiguity
Grammar
Child Learner
Eye Gaze
Morphology
Social Context
24
Differential Weighting Time 3
Perceptual Salience
Temporal Contiguity
Grammar
Child Learner
Eye Gaze
Morphology
Social Context
25
Emergent Immature to Mature
  • Only from the combined action of multiple cues is
    word learning even possible.
  • Domain-general to specific
  • Own view to others view
  • Indexical (signal) to symbolic
  • Principles are thus the products, not the engines
    of development.

26
Validating the Emergentist Model
  • Do children use multiple, overlapping cues in
    word learning?
  • Does the weighting change over time?
  • In this manner, are word learning principles
    emergent products?

27
Part IV Evidence for the Emergentist Coalition
Model
  • The Principles of Reference and Extendibility
  • as cases in point.

28
The Case of Reference
29
The Principle of Reference
  • Considered by many to be the most basic of word
    learning principles, often considered to be a
    conceptual primitive. States that words
    symbolically refer to objects, actions, and
    events.

30
A Continuum of Reference
  • Immature principle of reference
  • Domain-general associative behavior.
  • Goes-with relationship (telephone--gtring)
  • Perceptual Weighting What kid has in mind.
  • Mature principle of reference
  • Domain-specific rule-like behavior.
  • Stands-for relationship -- Non-iconic
  • (Word telephone used without phone present.)
  • Social Weighting What adult has in mind.

31
Practical Consequences of a Continuum of Reference
  • Immature Principle of Reference
  • Attaches label to object, action, or event
    that is the most interesting in the environment
    -- perceptual cues dominate mapping. Often
    wrong!
  • Mature Principle of Reference
  • Social cues dominate mapping. Child becomes
    apprentice to adult for quick and reliable
    learning.

32
Hypothesis
  • If present children with interesting and boring
    objects AND label the boring object (e.g.. Look
    at it, point to it, handle it)
  • Children with an immature principle
  • Assume the label maps to the interesting object
    regardless of what the adult does.
  • Children with an mature principle
  • Assume the label maps to the boring object that
    the speaker has in mind.

33
Conditions
34
Need for a method.
  • A method that would allow for controlled word
    learning experiments in both 12 month old infants
    who are just learning their first words and in
    24-month old word learning sophisticates.
  • A method that makes minimal demands on babies.
  • A tightly controlled procedure where word
    learning cues could be systematically introduced.

35
The Interactive IPLP
Video
Display Board
Parent Child
36
Display Board
Wheres the Ball.
37
Display Board
Do you see the ball? Look at the Ball.
38
Logic
  • Children will allocate more attention to the
    object that matches the requested object.

39
Interactive IPLP Design
40
Familiar Procedure
41
Novel Trial Procedure (Part 1)
42
Novel Trial Procedure (Part 2)
43
Conditions
44
Hypothesis
  • Younger children would map words (associate
    words) to the most interesting object even in the
    conflict condition while older children will use
    social cues to map words to objects and will
    label the boring object if that is the object
    labeled by the experimenter.

45
Independent Dependent Variables
  • Independent
  • - Age
  • - Toy labeled
  • - Side of match
  • Dependent
  • - visual fixation

46
Study 1 Validation Test of Model
  • 99 subjects 33 at each of three ages - 12, 19,
    24 mo.
  • .
  • Validation Familiar Trials within paradigm
    assess whether children can do the task.
  • Test of model Novel Trials in which children are
    trained to map a label onto either an interesting
    or a boring unfamiliar toy.

47
Familiar Results
  • Where infants able to do the task?
  • YES!

48
Familiar Results Mean Looking to Targeted Object
Mean Looking time (sec)
49
Salience Results
  • Was the interesting toy and boring toy really
    interesting and boring?
  • YES!

50
Salience Results
51
Training Results
  • Were the children able to follow
  • eye gaze in the labeling phase?
  • YES 19 and 24-mo-old infants did.
  • NO 12-mo-old infants did not.

52
Training Results Mean Difference in looking time
to interesting object
53
Novel Trial Results
  • Did the children learn the label?
  • YES For the 19- and 24- mo-old infants
  • UNCLEAR For the 12 mo-old infants

54
Novel Trial Results Difference in Looking times
to Interesting Object
Conflict Coincidental
Mean Diff Looking time (sec)
55
Taking Stock Discussion and Interpretation
  • What we know
  • We can develop methods that allow us to peer
  • at cues used in the word learning process
  • Principle of Reference appears to be
    emergent
  • There is a changing emphasis on social cues.
  • What we don't know
  • Whether 12 month olds are capable of learning
    a
  • label in our task at all.

56
Study 2 Are the 12 month olds learning anything?
  • The current results leave us with two potential
    interpretations
  • The infants are clueless and cannot label at all
  • OR
  • The infants are learning a label BUT are
  • labeling the interesting object -- the
  • perceptually salient choice in accordance with
    our hypothesis.

57
Changing the test trial design
  • Novel trial Where's the modi?
  • Novel trial Where's the modi?
  • New Novel Word Where's the glorp?
  • Novel trial Where's the modi?

58
Study 2 Results (n32)
59
Study 2 What we learned
  • The label is making a difference, but only in
    the coincidental condition.
  • 12-month olds are lured by perceptual salience,
    but they did not attach the label to the
    interesting object in the conflict condition.
    Thus, contrary to predictions, they are
    conservative learners who need consistent cues,
    both social and perceptual, in order to attach
    labels to objects.

60
So wheres Fido?
Is there ever a time when children rely solely on
perceptual cues to make world-to-word mappings?
61
Study 3 Learning from 10-month olds
  • 10-month-olds are just beginning to understand
    words
  • They know few or none of the familiar words used
    with the older children, so we could not
    validate the procedure.
  • Yet, they are learning words, SO
  • We ran 26, 10-month olds on Study 3

And this is what we found..
62
Results of Study 3 with 10-month olds
No differences across conflict and coincidental
conditions!
Interesting Boring
Salience 2.80 s.
2.25 s. Training 4.04 s.
2.21 s. Novels
2.80 s. 1.66 s.
Glorp 2.06 s.
1.53 s. (ns) Recovery 2.47 s.
1.34 s.
63
10-month-old results
64
Conclusions from Study 3
  • Fido lives!
  • At the very beginning of word learning,
    children label the most interesting object
    regardless of what the adult is doing.

65
What do 18-month olds have the 10-month olds
lack?
  • The ability to use anothers social intent to
    inform the mapping between word and world ( a
    finding that is pervasive in the literature)
  • The consequent ability to benefit from the
    social/cognitive foundation through which we
    inherit our culture (Tomasello, 2000)

66
Study 4 A final natural experiment on
reference The case of autistic children
  • Children seem to move from the use of perceptual
    cues to social cues in word learning.
  • This shift emerges at around the same time the
    naming explosion is evident in production
  • Could it be that children who cannot recruit
    social cues fall behind in vocabulary learning
    because they learn more like 10-month-old
    associative learners than like 18-month-old
    social learners?

67
The study Hennon, 2002
  • 17 autistic children with a DSM diagnosis of
    autism
  • 26 age-matched matched control children
  • Same study that was conducted with the 10 through
    24-month-old children, but with touching and
    pointing of objects

68
Labeled interesting object
69
Labeled boring object
70
The principle of reference What have we learned?
  • Consistent with the predictions of the
    Emergentist Coalition Model, infants begin as
    associationists, mapping words to the most
    salient objects in the environment.
  • By just 12 months of age, they are already
    attending to multiple cues to serve word-to-world
    mappings.
  • The potency of cues changes over time such that
    the 12-month-old associationist, becomes the
    18-month-old social pragmatist.
  • The principle of reference is thus emergent
    across developmental time as infants learn to use
    social cues in the service of word learning.
  • For some children, the shift might not take
    place, seriously retarding their ability to learn
    new words.

71
A summary of 12 of our studies on the principle
of reference can be found in...
Our recent SRCD monograph Hollich, G.,
Hirsh-Pasek,K., Golinkoff, R.M. (2000) Breaking
the language barrier An emergentist coalition
model for the origins of word learning.
72
The Case of Extendibility
  • We know from the principle of reference that
    children can label a single object, but do they
    know that most words refer to categories of
    objects, rather than to single objects, actions
    and events?

73
The Emergentist View
  • Immature Principle of Extendibility
  • Child operates with proper noun hypothesis
    infant
  • labels unique object and then quickly moves to
  • extension based on perceptual similarity --
    using childs
  • point of view.
  • Mature Principle of Extendibility
  • Child uses speakers point of view to extend
    word to
  • category member even if no perceptual similarity.

74
Extendibility Three questions
  • Will children label just the original object or
    be willing to extend the label to an object of
    similar appearance?
  • Can infants extend label to another exemplar of
    similar appearance even if original object is not
    present?
  • Will children use social cues to extend a novel
    label even in the absence of perceptual
    similarity?

75
Two types of experiments to test questions
  • Perception Extension Experiments
  • Social Extension Experiments

76
Prediction Time 1
Perceptual Salience
Temporal Contiguity
Grammar
Child Learner
Eye Gaze
Morphology
Social Context
77
Differential Weighting Time 2
Perceptual Salience
Temporal Contiguity
Grammar
Child Learner
Eye Gaze
Morphology
Social Context
78
Study 1 Extendability Perception Experiments
79
Trial Procedure (Part 2)
80
Subjects
  • 167 children participated at ages
  • 10 months
  • 12 months
  • 14 months
  • 19 months
  • 24 months

81
Preliminary Results
  • Data reported from 95 children who learned the
    label for the original exemplar (ranging from 60
    of the 10- and 12-month-olds to 75 of the
    24-month-olds).

82
Do children begin with a proper noun hypothesis?
  • YES!

83
Results on proper noun
  • 10-month olds prefer to look at the original
    exemplar when paired with an exemplar that is
    identical with the exception of color (p lt .05)
  • 12-month-olds show a trend towards the proper
    noun hypothesis (p .06)
  • No evidence for proper noun hypothesis at other
    ages

84
Do children extend a label to perceptually
similar objects?
  • YES!
  • At 19- and 24-months
  • IT DEPENDS.
  • At 10-, 12- and 14- months
  • These children CAN extend, but extension is
    fragile and is influenced by context.

85
What are the younger infants doing?
  • If they are presented with this display
  • first
    then
  • They CAN extend
  • If they are presented with this display
  • first
    then
  • They CANT extend

86
Interpretation?
  • Younger children will default to the proper
    noun hypothesis if given any opportunity to use
    it.
  • Older more sophisticated word learners have
    learned that the default is the opposite Words
    label categories.

87
Baby word learners are brilliant!
  • As in the acquisition of grammar, it is easier
    to go from a narrow hypothesis to a broad one
    than the reverse.

88
How do children learn to extend?
  • As they hear labels used with perceptually
    similar objects, they learn -- on very few
    exposures -- to extend and to form categories
    (Hollich, 1999, Smith 2000)
  • Yet, all category members do not share perceptual
    features (e.g., bean bag chairs and dining room
    chairs are both chairs) Can they extend labels to
    these categories?

89
Study 2aExtendibilty The Social Extension
Experiments
Modi
Modi
Modi
Modi
90
The hypotheses
  • Consistent with the theory, we hypothesized that
    children with an immature principle of extension,
    who rely on perceptual information will not
    accept the category label for a perceptually
    dissimilar object.
  • Children with a mature principle of extension
    will use both perceptual and social cues for
    category extension.

91
Study 2a Extendability The Social
Extension
Exploration and labeling Eve, its a modi
Wow, a modi. Oh, a modi Eve, Look , another
modi And look at this!
92
Procedure (cont.)
Testing (6sec) Eve, wheres the modi? Do
you see the modi? Show me the modi.
93
Subjects
  • 95 children participated at ages
  • 12 months
  • 18 months
  • 24 months

94
Results
  • The 18- and 24-month-olds included the
    perceptually dissimilar random object in the
    category or at least accepted our name for the
    random object. They readily accept the label
    that the speaker offered.
  • The 12-month-olds did not accept the label.

95
Why?
  • Do the 12-month olds need perceptual cues with
    social cues to support extension?
  • OR
  • Do they have other processing problems, like
    memory problems, that caused them to fail in this
    task?

96
Study 2b Extension with perceptual and social
support
97
Results
  • Here 12-, 18- and 24-month-old children succeed
    without difficulty.
  • 12-month-olds seem to need perceptual support to
    extend a label.
  • 18- and 24-month-olds will extend a category
    based on social and linguistic cues alone.

98
Interpreting studies on the principle of
extendibility
  • Consistent with the predictions
  • 10-month-olds have a proper noun bias
  • By 12 and 14 months they start to extend labels
    to similar objects, but that extension is
    fragile.
  • By 18 months of age, children naturally extend to
    perceptually similar objects and will even
    trust a social mentor -- accepting a label for
    a category object even without perceptual support.

99
Recapping the Story Line
  • Infants learning their first words are already
    operating with immature word learning principles
    that help get language learning off the ground.
  • These principles are informed by multiple inputs
    -- attentional, social, and linguistic.
  • These principles are both conservative and
    fragile.
  • The nature of these principles changes over time
    with attentional cues dominating early and social
    and linguistic cues becoming increasingly
    important.

100
Part V Conclusions
  • Evaluating the model
  • Taking change seriously
  • Theoretical implications


101
Evaluating the model
  • Is there evidence that children use multiple
    cues?
  • Do the weightings of cues shift over time?
  • Does the child move from an immature to a mature
    principle?

102
The Immature Principles at 12 months?
  • Children use a coalition of social, perceptual
    and linguistic cues to redundantly map words onto
    referents.
  • Very conservative word learners who attach words
    to the things that are of the most interest to
    them.
  • They attach words to a single object, action or
    event.
  • Word-to-world mapping conducted from childs
    point of view rather than the speakers point of
    view.
  • Principles of reference and extendibility are
    fragile.
  • Word learning is slow.

103
Conservative child, redundancy needed to map
Response Threshold
Attentional Cues
Social Cues
Linguistic Cues
104
Mature Principles at 24 months
  • Infants now rely primarily on social cues like
    eye gaze, pointing, and handling to determine
    the referent for a word.
  • They map a word onto what the speaker has in
    mind --greatly enhancing the accuracy of word
    learning.
  • Children qua statisticians develop biases for
    social and linguistic cues that are reliable and
    accurate predictors of how words map to objects,
    actions and events.
  • Word learning is fast.

105
Older children Rely on Social and Linguistic
cues. But any will work.
Attentional Cues
Social Cues
Response Threshold
Linguistic Cues
106
The power of the new method in evaluating the
model
  • Only a method that allows us to look at
    competing cues over time will reveal the true
    complexity of the system.

107
Taking Change Seriously
  • The emergentist coalition model embraces many of
    the characteristics of the associationistic,
    social pragmatic, and constraints/principles
    views and demonstrates how seemingly opposing
    perspectives can be united in a word learning
    theory that looks at developmental change over
    time.
  • Thus far we see THAT change occurs. We must now
    begin to evaluate what motivates the change.

108
Theoretical Implications
  • The emergentist coalition model is a proxy for
    developmental theory--writ large
  • NOT searching for parsimony by identifying
  • a smoking gun.
  • The new wave the radical middle

109
The EMC suggests that
We need not be constrained by myopic theories of
complex phenomena
110
Across developmental psychology we must begin to
take an integrative look at the child from
different theoretical perspectives...
111
Even this wont be enough, however, if we dont
look for change over time and for ways to connect
the snapshots that we produce...
112
For only when we look at how multiple inputs
interact across time will developmentalists be
able to understand complex behaviors and see a
whole baby
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