Learning Foreign Sounds in an Alien World: Videogame Training Improves Non-Native Speech Categorization
Article first published online: 9 AUG 2011
Copyright © 2011 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
Volume 35, Issue 7, pages 1390–1405, September/October 2011
How to Cite
Lim, S.-j. and Holt, L. L. (2011), Learning Foreign Sounds in an Alien World: Videogame Training Improves Non-Native Speech Categorization. Cognitive Science, 35: 1390–1405. doi: 10.1111/j.1551-6709.2011.01192.x
- Issue published online: 1 SEP 2011
- Article first published online: 9 AUG 2011
- Received 9 June 2010; received in revised form 23 February 2011; accepted 25 February 2011
- Non-native speech categorization;
- Speech perception;
- Videogame training;
- Adult plasticity;
- Auditory learning;
- Second language learning
Although speech categories are defined by multiple acoustic dimensions, some are perceptually weighted more than others and there are residual effects of native-language weightings in non-native speech perception. Recent research on nonlinguistic sound category learning suggests that the distribution characteristics of experienced sounds influence perceptual cue weights: Increasing variability across a dimension leads listeners to rely upon it less in subsequent category learning (Holt & Lotto, 2006). The present experiment investigated the implications of this among native Japanese learning English /r/-/l/ categories. Training was accomplished using a videogame paradigm that emphasizes associations among sound categories, visual information, and players’ responses to videogame characters rather than overt categorization or explicit feedback. Subjects who played the game for 2.5 h across 5 days exhibited improvements in /r/-/l/ perception on par with 2–4 weeks of explicit categorization training in previous research and exhibited a shift toward more native-like perceptual cue weights.