This study focused on the potential role of incidental, auditory perceptual learning in among children learning new words. To this end, we examined how irrelevant auditory similarities across words, that provide no cues regarding their visual or conceptual attributes, influence pseudo-word learning in a name/picture matching paradigm. Two types of irrelevant auditory similarities were used: shared sequences of vowels or consonants. Learning word-to-picture associations in these two conditions was compared to a baseline condition in which items did not share either sequence. Kindergarten children readily learned items in all conditions, but auditory similarity interfered with learning (odds ratio, 1.12). Individual differences in reasoning and vocabulary did not account for the interference effect. These findings suggest that the sensory properties of words continue to influence language learning during the preschool years through rapid incidental learning, even if the effect is relatively small. Consistent with previous studies in the visual modality, we now suggest that incidental perceptual learning occurs in the auditory modality. Furthermore, the current findings suggest that this learning can interfere with word learning, highlighting the importance of the perceptual structure of words in real-world-like learning environments.
- Nonadjacent dependencies
- incidental learning
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sensory Systems