Computational Insights to Acquisition of Phonemes, Words, and Word Meanings in Early Language: Sequential or Parallel Acquisition?

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Previous computational models of early language acquisition have shown how linguistic structure of speech can be acquired using auditory or audiovisual learning mechanisms. However, real infants have sustained access to both uni- and multimodal sensory experiences. Therefore, it is of interest how the uni- and multimodal learning mechanisms could operate in concert, and how their interplay might affect the acquisition dynamics of different linguistic representations. This paper explores these questions with a computational model capable of simultaneous auditory and audiovisual learning from speech and images. We study how the model’s latent representations reflect phonemic, lexical, and semantic knowledge as a function of language experience. We also test how the findings vary with differential emphasis on the two learning mechanisms. As a result, we find phonemic learning always starting to emerge before lexical learning, followed by semantics. However, there is also notable overlap in their development. The same pattern emerges irrespectively of the emphasis on auditory or audiovisual learning. The result illustrates how the acquisition dynamics of linguistic representations are decoupled from the primary learning objectives (mechanisms) of the learner, and how the emergence of phonemes and words can be facilitated by both auditory and audiovisual learning in a synergetic manner.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings
EventAnnual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society - Sydney, Australia
Duration: 26 Jul 202329 Jul 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
ISSN (Electronic)1069-7977


ConferenceAnnual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1


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