Alexis Black and Masaki Noguchi are at BU (without me)

Alexis Black is presenting a study from her dissertation work at BUCLD on Saturday November 5th. The talk is entitled “The impact of phonological knowledge on statistical learning”.

Abstract: Current theories suggest that statistical learning is fundamental to language acquisition; much about the mechanisms underlying this capacity, however, remain unknown. Across 5 experiments we exposed 120 adult participants to an artificial language composed of either native or non-native phonemes for 2-8 minutes. We hypothesized that making the sounds more difficult to perceive and encode would alter the trajectory of the statistical learning process. Participants exposed to non-native sounds failed to distinguish words from part-words until familiarized to 4 times as much stimuli as required for native-language sounds. Learners were sensitive, however, to the difference between familiar and completely novel 3-syllable combinations after only 2 minutes of exposure. After 4 minutes of exposure, this strengthened to include a novel syllable combination at either the beginning or end of the word. These results have implications for thinking about infant learners who are in the process of acquiring their native sound inventory.

And Masaki Noguchi has a poster, also on Saturday. “Learning of talker-specific phonemic contrasts by adults”


BU Poster: Learning phonetic categories with phonotactics: the influence of predictability and phonetic naturalness

The lab is back at BUCLD! The conference, as always, looks really great, and I (Carla) am sorry to have to miss it. But PhD student Masaki Noguchi will be there presenting our poster entitled “Learning phonetic categories with phonotactics: the influence of predictability and phonetic naturalness” during the Friday Poster session. The attended session is Friday, November 7, at 3 pm. Pop by the poster to hear about his dissertation research. Or you can always email us for a copy.

2 Posters at LabPhon 14

It’s a busy week for the Language and Learning Lab. In addition to the paper that just came out, we have some ongoing work being presented at LabPhon 14 in Tokyo. The first is on Friday, July 25, in Poster Session 1. It’s P1-11 “Learning sound categories with phonotactics” by M. Noguchi and C. Hudson Kam. The second is on Sunday, July 27, in Poster Session 3. It’s P3-28 “Phonotactic learning and its interaction with speech segmentation” by A. Black and M. Noguchi. Phd student Masaki Noguchi is presenting both of them. Stop by and check them out if you’re there. If not, just email for a copy.

Fuzzy memories? Developmental differences in the stability of statistically-extracted representations – Poster by Alexis Black, Janet Werker, and Carla Hudson Kam at ISIS 2014

For those of you heading off to Berlin for ISIS 2014, check out poster 3-028 in Poster Session 10. It’s on Saturday from 3:30-5 pm. “Fuzzy memories? Developmental differences in the stability of statistically-extracted representations” is the title of the poster, featuring Alexis Black‘s dissertation work. It looks at developmental differences in statistical learning, comparing infants with adults, looking especially at the robustness of resulting knowledge. If you’re interested, check out the poster, or email her.

LabPhon14 schedule is out, and we’re in it!

The schedule for LabPhon14 in Tokyo is out, and the lab has two posters being presented there.

The first P1-11 Learning sound categories with phonotactics by Masaki Noguchi and Carla Hudson Kam on Friday July 23rd in Poster Session 1 (14:30-16:20).

The second is P3-29 Phonotactic learning and its interaction with speech segmentation by Alexis Black and Masaki Noguchi on Sunday July 27th in Poster Session 3 (13:10-15:00).

Here’s a link to the book of abstracts.

Carla Hudson Kam talking at NIU on Apr 30: Input, ‘intake’, and the adult language learner

I’m visiting Northern Illinois University this week, as part of serving as a mentor in their PI Academy. I’ll be working with Karen Lichtman in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature. I’m looking forward to the visit, and to being part of this really innovative program.

As part of my involvement, I’ll be giving a talk on some of my work. I’ve chosen to talk about work most related to Karen’s own (really interesting!) research program. Which means talking about work I’ve never talked about before (although thankfully, Amy Finn, the former student who did much of the work, has). It’s especially exciting to me because I’m bringing together work by 2 PhD students at 2 different universities, in addition to work done by 2 undergraduates, again, from both UC Berkeley and UBC. Given the way we write papers, things can appear as a bunch of unrelated projects, when really there is a very programmatic thread underlying them all, and it’s been fun to string that thread through the studies while working on the talk.

The talk is entitled “Input, ‘intake’, and the adult language learner”.

Here’s the abstract: Differences in outcomes between child and adult language learners have long been noted – in particular, the fact that people who start learning a language as children usually reach a higher level of proficiency in the language than those who start learning later in life. A variety of explanations for this discrepancy in outcomes have been proposed, ranging from differences in neural plasticity to differences in the levels of personal identification with the new and old cultures, most of which find some support in the data. One factor that has received relatively less attention is input differences, the idea that children and adults tend to get very different linguistic input. People have pointed out, for instance, that the context or environment in which adults versus children learn obviously will affect their input, which then has the potential to affect learning outcomes. But there is another aspect to input, namely, how learners engage with and process the input they receive, that can be described as affecting their intake, not just their input. These are things internal to the learner, like the nature and strength of prior knowledge and maturationally controlled cognitive/brain changes. In this talk, I will present data from several studies using miniature artificial language methods demonstrating how learning outcomes for adult learners are affected by their intake, and discuss how these intake effects are related to maturation and so age of acquisition.

“The adolescent peak and sound change”: paper being presented by PhD student Emily Sadlier-Brown at CWSL2014

Emily Sadlier-Brown will be presenting a paper entitled “The Adolescent Peak and Sound Change” at the inaugural Cascadia Workshop in Sociolinguistics at the University of Victoria tomorrow, March 1, at 4:15 pm. It’ll be in HHB 116. The paper covers some results of a computational model of a change in progress. It’s work done with Scott Mackie, another PhD student in the department, and me (Carla Hudson Kam).

“The role of memory and representations in statistical learning” Alexis Black’s poster at the ASA Annual Meeting in SF

Alexis Black will be presenting a poster entitled “The role of memory and representations in statistical learning” at the 166th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in San Francisco this Friday, December 6th.

It’s in poster session 5aSCc (Speech Analysis), room Plaza A, 8am -12 pm.

It’s the first experiment from her dissertation work, looking at what, exactly, people extract in SL word learning studies. We compare performance for speech streams that contain native versus non-native (and semi-native) speech sounds on several measures of segmentation. Want to know more? Go see the poster! Or email her for a copy (

Yay! BUCLD abstract submitted

So excited that the lab is up and running! Especially for the students who are finally able to get stuck into data collection. We even managed to get enough done on one project that we submitted a BUCLD abstract today (2 hours early I might add). It’s the first study in Alexis Black’s dissertation work. I won’t post any details (or even the title) here, since the acceptance rate is so low (fingers are crossed) and the community is small enough that there is a good chance we could know one or more reviewers (although it’s unlikely people would peg the project as one coming from my lab).