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Baby Lab

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Syllables as units in the perception of spoken language by the infant / Las Silabas como Unidades en la Percepcion del Lenguaje Hablado por parte del Bebe

Studied the role of the syllable in the processing of language by 20 infants (aged less than 6 wks), who were presented stimuli in a habituation-nonhabituation paradigm. Stimuli were varied by switching initial and terminal consonants. Discrimination of these changes was observed when Ss were presented with syllables, nonsyllables, and synthetic bisyllabic sequences containing the nonsyllable. Discrimination was judged through variations in the recorded sucking response. Ss had no difficulty in discriminating syllables differing only in the order of the constituent phonemes, such as "pat" and "tap." Ss were not able to discriminate changes in the order of nonsyllabic stimuli. The bisyllabic sequences were discriminated to an intermediate degree. Ss were better able to discriminate a change in syllables than in the other contexts. The syllable, rather than the phoneme, appears to be a natural unit in the segmentation and processing of spoken language by infants. (24 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved)