Infants learn from adults readily and cooperate with them spontaneously, but how do they select culturally appropriate teachers and collaborators? Building on evidence that children demonstrate social preferences for speakers of their native language, Experiment 1 presented 10- month-old infants with videotaped events in which a native and a foreign speaker introduced two different toys. When given a chance to choose between real exemplars of the objects, infants preferentially chose the toy modeled by the native speaker. In Experiment 2, 2.5-year-old (...) children were presented with the same videotaped native and foreign speakers, and played a game in which they could offer an object to one of two individuals. Children reliably gave to the native speaker. Together, the results suggest that infants and young children are selective social learners and cooperators, and that language provides one basis for this selectivity. (shrink)
Before the end of the first year of life, infants begin to lose the ability to perceive distinctions between sounds that are not phonemic in their native language. It is typically assumed that this developmental change reflects the construction of language-specific phoneme categories, but how these categories are learned largely remains a mystery. Peperkamp, Le Calvez, Nadal, and Dupoux (2006) present an algorithm that can discover phonemes using the distributions of allophones as well as the phonetic properties of the allophones (...) and their contexts. We show that a third type of information source, the occurrence of pairs of minimally differing word forms in speech heard by the infant, is also useful for learning phonemic categories and is in fact more reliable than purely distributional information in data containing a large number of allophones. In our model, learners build an approximation of the lexicon consisting of the high-frequency n-grams present in their speech input, allowing them to take advantage of top-down lexical information without needing to learn words. This may explain how infants have already begun to exhibit sensitivity to phonemic categories before they have a large receptive lexicon. (shrink)
Each language has a unique set of phonemic categories and phonotactic rules which determine permissible sound sequences in that language. Behavioral research demonstrates that one’s native language shapes the perception of both sound categories and sound sequences in adults, and neuroimaging results further indicate that the processing of native phonemes and phonotactics involves a left-dominant perisylvian brain network. Recent work using a novel technique, functional Near InfraRed Spectroscopy (NIRS), has suggested that a left-dominant network becomes evident towards the end of (...) the first year of life as infants process phonemic contrasts. The present research project attempted to assess whether the same pattern would be seen for native phonotactics. We measured brain responses in Japanese- and French-learning infants to two contrasts: Abuna vs. Abna (a phonotactic contrast that is native in French, but not in Japanese) and Abuna vs. Abuuna (a vowel length contrast that is native in Japanese, but not in French). Results did not show a significant response to either contrast in either group, unlike both previous behavioral research on phonotactic processing and NIRS work on phonemic processing. To understand these null results, we performed similar NIRS experiments with Japanese adult participants. These data suggest that the infant null results arise from an interaction of multiple factors, involving the suitability of the experimental paradigm for NIRS measurements and stimulus perceptibility. We discuss the challenges facing this novel technique, particularly focusing on the optimal stimulus presentation which could yield strong enough hemodynamic responses when using the change detection paradigm. (shrink)
Recent empirical and conceptual research has shown that moral considerations have an influence on the way we use the adverb ‘intentionally’. Here we propose our own account of these phenomena, according to which they arise from the fact that the adverb ‘intentionally’ has three different meanings that are differently selected by contextual factors, including normative expectations. We argue that our hypotheses can account for most available data and present some new results that support this. We end by discussing the implications (...) of our account for folk psychology. (shrink)
In this article, we apply a special case of holographic representations to letter position coding. We translate different well-known schemes into this format, which uses distributed representations and supports constituent structure. We show that in addition to these brain-like characteristics, performances on a standard benchmark of behavioral effects are improved in the holographic format relative to the standard localist one. This notably occurs because of emerging properties in holographic codes, like transposition and edge effects, for which we give formal demonstrations. (...) Finally, we outline the limits of the approach as well as its possible future extensions. (shrink)
We use psychological concepts (e.g., intention and desire) when we ascribe psychological states to others for purposes of describing, explaining, and predicting their actions. Does the evidence reported by Knobe show, as he thinks, that moral evaluation shapes our mastery of psychological concepts? We argue that the evidence so far shows instead that moral evaluation shapes the way we report, not the way we think about, others' psychological states.
ABSTRACT Generative linguistics' search for linguistic universals (1) is not comparable to the vague explanatory suggestions of the article; (2) clearly merits a more central place than linguistic typology in cognitive science; (3) is fundamentally untouched by the article's empirical arguments; (4) best explains the important facts of linguistic diversity; and (5) illuminates the dominant component of language's nature: biology.
A new framework for the study of the human moral faculty is currently receiving much attention: the so-called ‘universal moral grammar' framework. It is based on an intriguing analogy, first pointed out by Rawls, between the study of the human moral sense and Chomsky's research program into the human language faculty. In order to assess UMG, we ask: is moral competence modular? Does it have an underlying hierarchical grammatical structure? Does moral diversity rest on culture-dependent parameters? We review evidence that (...) supports negative answers and argue that formal grammatical concepts are of limited value for the study of moral judgments, moral development and moral diversity. (shrink)