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Baby Lab

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Do infants perceive word boundaries? An empirical study of the bootstrapping of lexical acquisition

Studied newborn infants' sensitivity to word boundary (WB) cues. WB discrimination was assessed in 40 full-term, 3-day-old infants using a high-amplitude non-nutritive sucking procedure; the experiment was replicated in 40 additional infants. A number of bisyllabic items with the same phonemic content (/mati/) were used; stimuli were extracted from naturally produced spoken sentences and differed only with respect to the presence or absence of WBs. Results indicate that 3-day-old infants can discriminate bisyllabic stimuli extracted from naturally produced sentences according to whether they contain a WB or not. The duration of the last vowel of a word, as well as the duration of the initial consonant of a word, are reliable cues for the presence of a WB. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved)



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