A One-to-One Bias and Fast Mapping Support Preschoolers' Learning About Faces and Voices

Cognitive Science 34 (5):719-751 (2010)
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A multimodal person representation contains information about what a person looks like and what a person sounds like. However, little is known about how children form these face-voice mappings. Here, we explored the possibility that two cognitive tools that guide word learning, a one-to-one mapping bias and fast mapping, also guide children’s learning about faces and voices. We taught 4- and 5-year-olds mappings between three individual faces and voices, then presented them with new faces and voices. In Experiment 1, we found that children rapidly learned face-voice mappings from just a few exposures, and furthermore spontaneously mapped novel faces to novel voices using a one-to-one mapping bias (that each face can produce only one voice). In Experiment 2, we found that children’s face-voice representations are abstract, generalizing to novel tokens of a person. In Experiment 3, we found that children retained in memory the face-voice mappings that they had generated via inference (i.e., they showed evidence of fast mapping), and used these newly formed representations to generate further mappings between new faces and voices. These findings suggest that preschoolers’ rapid learning about faces and voices may be aided by biases that are similar to those that support word learning



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