Statistical Learning

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Science  19 Jan 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5503, pp. 401
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5503.401a

An earlier study has demonstrated that 8-month-old human infants are capable of learning the statistical properties of a stream of syllables and of using this knowledge, when tested subsequently, to group syllables into words (familiar transitions between syllables) versus non-words (unfamiliar transitions). It also has been shown that a non-human primate, the cotton-top tamarin, performs as well as human infants in rhythmic discrimination between Dutch and Japanese spoken forward and backward. Hauser et al. now bridge these studies by showing that tamarins are able statistical learners, too; that is, tamarins can distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar three-syllable words. Next on the agenda is identifying tasks soluble by infants but not by tamarins — GJC

Cognition78, B53 (2001).

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