Technical Program

Paper Detail

Paper: PS-1A.42
Session: Poster Session 1A
Location: H Lichthof
Session Time: Saturday, September 14, 16:30 - 19:30
Presentation Time:Saturday, September 14, 16:30 - 19:30
Presentation: Poster
Publication: 2019 Conference on Cognitive Computational Neuroscience, 13-16 September 2019, Berlin, Germany
Paper Title: A quantitative model of the language familiarity effect in infancy
Manuscript:  Click here to view manuscript
License: Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Authors: Craig Thorburn, Naomi Feldman, Thomas Schatz, University Of Maryland, United States
Abstract: Human listeners are better at telling apart speakers of their native language than speakers of other languages, a phenomenon known as the language familiarity effect. The recent observation of such an effect in infants as young as 4.5 months of age (Fecher & Johnson, in press) has led to new difficulties for theories of the effect. On the one hand, retaining classical accounts—which rely on sophisticated knowledge of the native language (Goggin, Thompson, Strube, & Simental, 1991)–requires an explanation of how infants could acquire this knowledge so early. On the other hand, letting go of these accounts requires an explanation of how the effect could arise in the absence of such knowledge. In this paper, we build on algorithms from unsupervised machine learning and zero-resource speech technology to propose, for the first time, a feasible acquisition mechanism for the language familiarity effect in infants. Our results show how, without relying on sophisticated linguistic knowledge, infants could develop a language familiarity effect through statistical modeling at multiple time-scales of the acoustics of the speech signal to which they are exposed.