Psychobabble 01/15 – Bozena Pajak (UCSD/Rochester)

Bozena Pajak (UCSD/Rochester) will be presenting in Psychobabble this week.

Speaker: Bozena Pajak
Date/Time: Tuesday, January 15, 4-6pm
Location: Campbell 2122
Title: Modeling generalization in distributional learning of phonetic categories
Contact: Carson Schutze


Distributional learning guides the acquisition of phonetic categories, both native and non-native, but its underlying mechanisms are still relatively poorly understood. In this talk I will present results showing how adults make use of distributional cues in a novel language to make inferences about other properties of that language. Specifically, after learning a novel distinction between short and long consonants for one segmental class (e.g., sonorants), participants were also inclined to think that length distinguishes between consonants in another class (e.g., fricatives). I will present a non-parametric Bayesian model that accounts for this generalization pattern by assuming a hierarchy of abstract phonological representations, where evidence from one part of the system informs inferences about the rest of the system.