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How do 4-day-old infants categorize multisyllabic utterances?

Three experiments, using the high-amplitude sucking procedure, tested whether 4-day-old infants discriminate multisyllabic utterances on the basis of number of syllables or number of phonemes. Exp 1 showed that infants discriminate 2 large sets of phonetically variable utterances composed of 2- vs 3-CV (consonant-vowel) syllables. Exp 2 was run to assess whether infants discriminated the 2 sets on the basis of duration differences between the 2- and 3-CV stimuli. Results indicate that reducing the duration differences does not affect infants' discrimination. Finally, Exp 3 investigated whether infants discriminate 4- vs 6-phoneme bisyllabic utterances. The results provide no evidence that infants are sensitive to such a change in number of phonemic constituents. Although not decisive, these results appear to be congruent with the hypothesis that infants perceptually structure complex speech inputs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved)



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