Input Variability Facilitates Unguided Subcategory Learning in Adults Purpose This experiment investigated whether input variability would affect initial learning of noun gender subcategories in an unfamiliar, natural language (Russian), as it is known to assist learning of other grammatical forms. Method Forty adults (20 men, 20 women) were familiarized with examples of masculine and feminine Russian ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2015
Input Variability Facilitates Unguided Subcategory Learning in Adults
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Sunniva Sørhus Eidsvåg
    University of Bergen, Norway
  • Margit Austad
    University of Bergen, Norway
  • Elena Plante
    The University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Arve E. Asbjørnsen
    University of Bergen, Norway
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Elena Plante: eplante@u.arizona.edu
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Jessica Richardson
    Associate Editor: Jessica Richardson×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2015
Input Variability Facilitates Unguided Subcategory Learning in Adults
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2015, Vol. 58, 826-839. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0172
History: Received June 22, 2014 , Revised October 31, 2014 , Accepted January 24, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2015, Vol. 58, 826-839. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0172
History: Received June 22, 2014; Revised October 31, 2014; Accepted January 24, 2015

Purpose This experiment investigated whether input variability would affect initial learning of noun gender subcategories in an unfamiliar, natural language (Russian), as it is known to assist learning of other grammatical forms.

Method Forty adults (20 men, 20 women) were familiarized with examples of masculine and feminine Russian words. Half of the participants were familiarized with 32 different root words in a high-variability condition. The other half were familiarized with 16 different root words, each repeated twice for a total of 32 presentations in a high-repetition condition. Participants were tested on untrained members of the category to assess generalization. Familiarization and testing was completed 2 additional times.

Results Only participants in the high-variability group showed evidence of learning after an initial period of familiarization. Participants in the high-repetition group were able to learn after additional input. Both groups benefited when words included 2 cues to gender compared to a single cue.

Conclusions The results demonstrate that the degree of input variability can influence learners' ability to generalize a grammatical subcategory (noun gender) from a natural language. In addition, the presence of multiple cues to linguistic subcategory facilitated learning independent of variability condition.

Acknowledgments
The experiment was supported in part by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant 1R01DC011276. Technical support was given by Bjørn Sætrevik, a postdoctoral student at the University of Bergen.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access