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Baby Lab

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From perception to grammar.

Makes a strong case for experimentation to be grounded in cognitive theory and gives an elegant demonstration of the ingenuity which characterizes the behavioral approach. The authors show how experiments contrasting familiarization with artificial grammars and test phases in infants and adults allow a number of key hypotheses regarding the fundamental processes of syntax acquisition to be tested based only on overt measures of participants' attention to a stimulus stream. Based on such observations Mehler et al. propose that, in addition to established statistical mechanisms thought to be at work in grammar learning, two elementary processes or perceptual primitives may intervene at a global or "Gestalt" level: a process that keeps track of repetitions or identity relations in language input and a process of edge detection capable of inferring boundaries. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved)