Poster B47, Sunday, March 25, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Phoneme learning in a musical context
Mihye Choi1, Ertugrul Uysal1, Mohinish Shukla1; 1University of Massachusetts Boston
Phoneme learning has been described as a narrowing process – while 6-mo-olds are universalists in their phoneme discrimination patterns, they lose discrimination capacities for non-native contrasts and begin strengthening native contrasts by their first birthday. A sensitivity to distributional properties of phonetic tokens has been hypothesized to lead learners to induce the appropriate underlying phonemic categories. In babies and adults, exposure to a continuum from [da] to [ta] with highest frequencies at the ends of the distribution (i.e., a bimodal distribution) leads to better discrimination of [da] and [ta] tokens compared to exposure to a unimodal distribution with a peak centered on the [da]-[ta] continuum. Separately, musical experience has been shown to influence linguistic abilities (the OPERA model). In this study, we bring these disparate observations together and ask if distributional learning can be enhanced by musical presentation. English speakers were exposed to an eight-step continuum from Hindi [ba] to [pa], with a unimodal or bimodal distribution. Additionally, half the participants were trained with monotonous presentation of the tokens, while for the other half the pitch of the tokens was manipulated to approximate a melody (Vivaldi’s Winter). Data collection is underway. Preliminary results suggest that, in the absence of music, participants are better at discriminating the non-native contrasts in the bimodal, compared to the unimodal condition. However, there are no differences between unimodal and bimodal presentations in the musical context groups. If this pattern of results remains, it would suggest a positive effect of language training in a musical context.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Other