Considering the Source

What information can young children use to aid them in understanding spoken language? Recent work in the Creel lab shows that preschoolers are able to use who is talking to limit the set of things that person might talk about.

They were first taught that Anna liked the color pink, and Billy liked blue. When they heard Anna begin to say "Can you help me find the square?", they began looking more to the pink shapes on the computer screen, and the reverse happened when Billy began talking. This also held for colors that were not gender-stereotyped (black and white). These results suggest that children can use speech acoustics to determine who the talker is, and then use information about that talker to aid them in processing language in real time.

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