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1.  Representations for phonotactic learning in infancy 
Infants rapidly learn novel phonotactic constraints from brief listening experience. Four experiments explored the nature of the representations underlying this learning. 16.5- and 10.5-month-old infants heard training syllables in which particular consonants were restricted to particular syllable positions (first-order constraints) or to syllable positions depending on the identity of the adjacent vowel (second-order constraints). Later, in a headturn listening-preference task, infants were presented with new syllables that either followed the experimental constraints or violated them. Infants at both ages learned first- and second-order constraints on consonant position (Experiments 1 and 2) but found second-order constraints more difficult to learn (Experiment 2). Infants also spontaneously generalized first-order constraints to syllables containing a new, transfer vowel; they did so whether the transfer vowel was similar to the familiarization vowels (Experiment 3), or dissimilar from them (Experiment 4). These findings suggest that infants recruit representations of individuated segments during phonological learning. Furthermore, like adults, they represent phonological sequences in a flexible manner that allows them to detect patterns at multiple levels of phonological analysis.
doi:10.1080/15475441.2011.580447
PMCID: PMC3326355  PMID: 22511851
speech perception; phonological development; statistical learning; phonotactic learning; infancy
2.  Do 15-Month-Old Infants Understand False Beliefs? 
Science (New York, N.y.)  2005;308(5719):255-258.
For more than two decades, researchers have argued that young children do not understand mental states such as beliefs. Part of the evidence for this claim comes from preschoolers’ failure at verbal tasks that require the understanding that others may hold false beliefs. Here, we used a novel nonverbal task to examine 15-month-old infants’ ability to predict an actor’s behavior on the basis of her true or false belief about a toy’s hiding place. Results were positive, supporting the view that, from a young age, children appeal to mental states—goals, perceptions, and beliefs—to explain the behavior of others.
doi:10.1126/science.1107621
PMCID: PMC3357322  PMID: 15821091
3.  15-month-old infants detect violations in pretend scenarios 
Acta Psychologica  2006;124(1):106-128.
Are 15-month-old infants able to detect a violation in the consistency of an event sequence that involves pretense? In Experiment 1, infants detected a violation when an actor pretended to pour liquid into one cup and then pretended to drink from another cup. In Experiment 2, infants no longer detected a violation when the cups were replaced with objects not typically used in the context of drinking actions, either shoes or tubes. Experiment 3 showed that infants’ difficulty in Experiment 2 was not due to the use of atypical objects per se, but arose from the novelty of seeing an actor appearing to drink from these objects. After receiving a single familiarization trial in which they observed the actor pretend to drink from either a shoe or a tube, infants now detected a violation when the actor pretended to pour into and to drink from different shoes or tubes. Thus, at an age (or just before the age) when infants are beginning to engage in pretend play, they are able to show comprehension of at least one aspect of pretense in a violation-of-expectation task: specifically, they are able to detect violations in the consistency of pretend action sequences.
doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2006.09.009
PMCID: PMC3351386  PMID: 17107649
Cognitive development; Infancy; Pretense comprehension; Theory of mind
4.  A vowel is a vowel: Generalizing newly-learned phonotactic constraints to new contexts 
Adults can learn novel phonotactic constraints from brief listening experience. We investigated the representations underlying phonotactic learning by testing generalization to syllables containing new vowels. Adults heard consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) study syllables in which particular consonants were artificially restricted to onset or coda position (e.g., /f/ is an onset, /s/ is a coda). Subjects were quicker to repeat novel constraint-following (legal) than constraint-violating (illegal) test syllables whether they contained a vowel used in the study syllables (training vowel) or a new (transfer) vowel. This effect emerged regardless of the acoustic similarity between training and transfer vowels. Listeners thus learned and generalized phonotactic constraints that can be characterized as simple first-order constraints on consonant position. Rapid generalization independent of vowel context provides evidence that vowels and consonants are represented independently by processes underlying phonotactic learning.
doi:10.1037/a0018991
PMCID: PMC2864940  PMID: 20438279
speech perception; phonological development; statistical learning; phonotactic learning; generalization
5.  Can an agent’s false belief be corrected by an appropriate communication? Psychological reasoning in 18-month-old infants 
Cognition  2008;109(3):295-315.
Do 18-month-olds understand that an agent’s false belief can be corrected by an appropriate, though not an inappropriate, communication? In Experiment 1, infants watched a series of events involving two agents, a ball, and two containers: a box and a cup. To start, agent1 played with the ball and then hid it in the box, while agent2 looked on. Next, in agent1’s absence, agent2 moved the ball from the box to the cup. When agent1 returned, agent2 told her “The ball is in the cup!” (informative-intervention condition) or “I like the cup!” (uninformative-intervention condition). During test, agent1 reached for either the box (box event) or the cup (cup event). In the informative-intervention condition, infants who saw the box event looked reliably longer than those who saw the cup event; in the uninformative-intervention condition, the reverse pattern was found. These results suggest that infants expected agent1’s false belief about the ball’s location to be corrected when she was told “The ball is in the cup!”, but not “I like the cup!”. In Experiment 2, agent2 simply pointed to the ball’s new location, and infants again expected agent1’s false belief to be corrected. These and control results provide additional evidence that infants in the second year of life can attribute false beliefs to agents. In addition, the results suggest that by 18 months of age infants expect agents’ false beliefs to be corrected by relevant communications involving words or gestures.
doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2008.08.008
PMCID: PMC2808001  PMID: 18976745
6.  Prototypicality in Sentence Production 
Cognitive psychology  2007;56(2):103-141.
Three cued-recall experiments examined the effect of category typicality on the ordering of words in sentence production. Past research has found that typical items tend to be mentioned before atypical items in a phrase—a pattern usually associated with lexical variables (like word frequency), and yet typicality is a conceptual variable. Experiment 1 revealed that an appropriate conceptual framework was necessary to yield the typicality effect. Experiment 2 tested ad-hoc categories that do not have prior representations in long-term memory and yielded no typicality effect. Experiment 3 used carefully matched sentences in which two category members appeared in the same or in different phrases. Typicality affected word order only when the two words appeared in the same phrase. These results are consistent with an account in which typicality has its origin in conceptual structure, which leads to differences in lexical accessibility in appropriate contexts.
doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2007.04.001
PMCID: PMC2266818  PMID: 17631877

Results 1-6 (6)