This research was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (BCS-0642415). I thank Teresa Pegors and many other research assistants for their help in running participants. Additionally, I thank David Plaut, David Rakison, Jenny Saffran, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful discussion and useful comments on previous versions of this manuscript, as well as the many parents who were willing to participate in the research.
Domain General Constraints on Statistical Learning
Article first published online: 9 MAR 2011
© 2011 The Author. Child Development © 2011 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
Volume 82, Issue 2, pages 462–470, March/April 2011
How to Cite
Thiessen, E. D. (2011), Domain General Constraints on Statistical Learning. Child Development, 82: 462–470. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01522.x
- Issue published online: 24 MAR 2011
- Article first published online: 9 MAR 2011
All theories of language development suggest that learning is constrained. However, theories differ on whether these constraints arise from language-specific processes or have domain-general origins such as the characteristics of human perception and information processing. The current experiments explored constraints on statistical learning of patterns, such as the phonotactic patterns of an infants’ native language. Infants in these experiments were presented with a visual analog of a phonotactic learning task used by J. R. Saffran and E. D. Thiessen (2003). Saffran and Thiessen found that infants’ phonotactic learning was constrained such that some patterns were learned more easily than other patterns. The current results indicate that infants’ learning of visual patterns shows the same constraints as infants’ learning of phonotactic patterns. This is consistent with theories suggesting that constraints arise from domain-general sources and, as such, should operate over many kinds of stimuli in addition to linguistic stimuli.